Mills fail to pay cane farmers yet againSugarcane farmers in the western part of Nawalparasi have been hit hard as sugar mills have been habitually delaying payment. This year, mills owe Rs460 million to farmers and there are no signs of them settling the dues.
Sugarcane farmers in the western part of Nawalparasi have been hit hard as sugar mills have been habitually delaying payment. This year, mills owe Rs460 million to farmers and there are no signs of them settling the dues.
Three months have passed since the farmers supplied their crop to the mills. The annual crushing season has already ended. Mills, on the other hand, are saying that they have a huge stock of sugar piled in their warehouse as they were unable to compete with imported sugar.
Normally, farmers sell their crop to mills on credit to prevent them from drying out in the field. And as usual, mills take advantage of the situation and don’t pay farmers.
Mina Chaudhary of Guthisuryapura sold her crop grown on 15 kattha. She feared her crop would dry if it was left in the field. “If we don’t sell them on time, we won’t receive payment.”
The government also does not fix the price of sugarcane and instead leaves farmers to settle payment issues with the mill by themselves. Sugar mills buy sugarcane promising to make payment after prices are fixed but as usual they make excuses when farmers come to collect their dues.
Hari Shankar Rajbhar, a local farmer of Susta, had planned to hire workers for paddy transplantation with the earnings from sugarcane. “Now, I have to look for credit to pay the farm workers.” “Without getting payment, it’s difficult to eke out a living.”
The Sugarcane Producers Farmers’ Committee has asked the authority concerned to settle the farmers’ dues. Umesh Yadav, chairman of the committee, said mills owe Rs460 million to farmers in Nawalparasi alone. “The mills do not even listen to the government,” he said, adding that they don’t have any options other than launching protests.
Tanka Nath Kafle, manager of Bagmati Khadsari Sugar Mill said they have 61 tonnes of sugar at the warehouse left unsold. “We have not been able to sell sugar as the price has decreased,” he said. “As a result, we have not been able to settle the payments.”
According to him, Indian sugar is available at less than Rs40 per kg in the market. Mills claims that they would be in loss if they sell sugar at less than Rs60 per kg.
Kafle said that Nepali sugar has not being able to gain market share due to increasing sugar imports from Pakistan and India.
As the government has announced not to refund VAT levied on sugar, prices are expected to go up.
Industry Minister Matrika Yadav had recently directed mills to make timely payments to farmers. However, mills have turned a deaf ear.
The government has fixed the price of sugarcane at Rs560 per quintal this year.
Sugarcane production has been decreasing in the district annually.
Last year, 2.3 million quintals of sugarcane was produced as compared to 4.2 million quintals production two decades ago. Sugarcane cultivation areas cover 7,000 hectares in the district last year, which has dropped to 5,000 hectares this year.