Sugarcane drying up as factories, farmers haggle over pricesStanding sugarcane worth millions is drying up in the fields in Sarlahi district as local sugar mills are yet to resume operation. The factories are not ready to buy the crops from farmers and start manufacturing sugar because the minimum price of sugarcane for this season has not been fixed.
Standing sugarcane worth millions is drying up in the fields in Sarlahi district as local sugar mills are yet to resume operation. The factories are not ready to buy the crops from farmers and start manufacturing sugar because the minimum price of sugarcane for this season has not been fixed.
Farmers in the district are in deep trouble as they face losing their crops worth millions. The National Planning Commission has formed a seven-member committee to fix the price of sugarcane, but it has not been able to do so even after holding four meetings.
Mill owners want to fix the price in the range of Rs350 to Rs400 per quintal, but farmers are not willing to accept that price. “Factory owners say that they will operate their factories if the price is fixed as per their offer, but the price offered by them is not acceptable to us,” said Kapil Muni Mainali, president of the Nepal Sugarcane Producer Association who attended the committee meeting.
In the past, sugar mills used to purchase the sugarcane harvests from farmers and resume operation by mid-November. For the past few years, mill owners have not been buying sugarcane on time due to their differences with farmers over the price.
“As we depend on the income from the sale of sugarcane to feed ourselves, it will be difficult to manage our daily essentials if mill owners do not purchase our crops on time,” said Tapeshwor Thakur, a sugarcane farmer. “We will have to bear unbearable losses if our crops dry up in the fields.”
Farmers are also anxious to harvest their sugarcane crops as they have to plant winter crops like wheat and lentils. “If we don’t harvest the sugarcane on time, we will not be able to plant other winter crops, and our land will remain barren,” said Tanka Prasain, another cane farmer.
The farmers are hard up for money to their daily needs, and they are being forced to sell their crops to middlemen at low prices. There are three sugar factories in Sarlahi district which is the largest producer of sugarcane in the country.
But many farmers in the district have been switching to other crops lately due to problems like low prices for sugarcane and delays in payment. This year, farmers have planted sugarcane on 24,000 hectares.