Eastern Sugar Mill clears dues of sugarcane farmersAfter series of protests, Eastern Sugar Mill located in Biratnagar has finally cleared the dues of sugarcane farmers of the last fiscal year.
After series of protests, Eastern Sugar Mill located in Biratnagar has finally cleared the dues of sugarcane farmers of the last fiscal year.
The sugar factory made a payment of Rs180 million for sugarcane bought from farmers of Morang and Sunsari districts in the last fiscal year, according to Shiva Lal Chaudhary, president of the Koshi Sugar Producers Association.
Earlier in January, sugarcane farmers from Morang and Sunsari had barred Eastern Sugar Mill from supplying sugar to the market after the mill refused to pay them for the raw material.
“We were finally able to receive the payment after series of protests,” said Chaudhary.
Sugarcane farmers had supplied 1.3 million quintals of sugarcane to the mill in the last fiscal year. This helped the mill to produce 120,000 quintals of sugar that year.
This fiscal year too, farmers have supplied 835,000 quintals of sugarcane worth Rs480 million. The sugarcanes supplied in this fiscal year have been used to produce 73,000 quintals of sugar, according to Brijmohan Gupta, chief accountant at the mill.
“Although sugarcanes supplied by farmers have already been used to produce sugar, we don’t know when we’ll receive the payment,” said Chaudhary.
Farmers of Morang and Sunsari said it has become a tradition to deliver harvests to the mills and get paid the next year.
Because of this reason and low floor prices for sugarcane, many farmers in these eastern districts have switched to other crops, leading to downfall in sugarcane output.
The government has fixed a floor price for sugarcane at Rs531.30 per quintal for this year. However, the mill has offered only Rs517 per quintal, farmers said.
Sugarcane farmers in Nawalparasi are also facing the same problem, leading to fall in production of the crop in the district.
A record 420,000 tonnes of sugarcane was produced in Nawalparasi in 2003. The production dropped to almost half in the last fiscal year.
Last year, 7,500 hectares of land was used for sugarcane farming in the district. The area has shrunk to 5,000 ha this year.
The country’s sugar demand currently stands at 215,000 tonnes per year. A total of 11 sugar mills operating in the country produce 165,000 tonnes of sugar worth Rs14.26 billion per year, according to the Ministry of Industry. The deficit is covered by imports mainly from India and Brazil. State-owned Salt Trading Corporation normally imports 25,000-30,000 tonnes of sugar annually.
Earlier in this month, sugar price hit a record high of Rs95 per kg in the Kathmandu Valley, as the government failed to maintain a buffer stock of the commodity. The Nepal Retailers Association, at that time, had charged a sugar cartel of taking undue advantage of the situation to jack up prices.