Cane growers end protest after agreement with millThe Sugarcane Producers Association in Mahottari has ended its nine-day-long protest after sugar factories agreed to address the demands of cane farmers.
The Sugarcane Producers Association in Mahottari has ended its nine-day-long protest after sugar factories agreed to address the demands of cane farmers.
A meeting held between the association and Everest Sugar Mill on Sunday agreed to resume sugarcane crushing. The association had launched a sit-in at the factory gate with a six-point charter of demands. Following the protest, the mill invited agitating farmers for talks last Saturday.
“The mill has agreed to address the demands placed by the association,” said Shyam Sah Shankar, president of the association. As per the agreement, both parties decided to implement the sugarcane prices and payment system to be fixed by a joint decision of the government and associations representing sugarcane growers and sugar producers.
If the proposed high-level mechanism fails to do so, both parties have agreed to fix the rates through mutual agreement after holding discussions.
Last year, the Cabinet had directed the Ministry of Industry to set the minimum support price (MSP) of sugarcane after demonstrations by farmers raged across the Tarai.
It has been a tradition for sugarcane growers and sugar mills to engage in a bitter confrontation over the floor price during harvest time. The government does not set sugarcane prices, and factories and farmers are told to sort things out themselves, and this provision leads to tensions flaring up every year.
Sugarcane prices in Nepal are normally based on prices offered by Indian mills to their farmers. Since last year, the government has been setting the MSP of sugarcane. The price was set at Rs460.61 per quintal last year.
The parliamentary Agriculture and Water Resources Committee had recently directed the Agriculture and Industry ministries to set the MSP for this season too following confrontations between sugarcane growers and sugar mills during the harvest season.
However, the government has not set the prices even though the sugarcane crushing period has started.
The MSP is normally announced during the planting season or a month before the harvest on the basis of the recommendations of the Ministry of Agricultural Development to enable farmers to decide early to plant the crop.
The government had announced in its budget statement for this fiscal year that it would fix the reference prices, or the MSP, of key agricultural products to encourage farmers.
Meanwhile, the mill has also agreed to make transparent the supply of sugarcane. Farmers have accused the mills of cheating them while weighing their crops.