By Our Correspondent Sarlahi, Dec. 3: As the government continues to dither over fixing the price of sugarcane, both operators of sugar mills and farmers are worried about the return of their yield. Kapilmuni Mainali, Chairman of Nepal Sugarcane Producer’s Association, said that the dillydallying was the main reason production of the cash crop was in decline.
“The delay in fixing the price of sugarcane is prompting the factories to open late and close early. This indifference on the part of the government has decreased the production of sugarcane,” he added. Mainali informed that the team of federal government under the Department of Agriculture visited their places on Tuesday. “They inquired about our operational cost and estimated price of the crop during the visit, and we asked them to wait till next week to get the reply,” he said.
Leaders of sugarcane farmers in various districts are meeting for a discussion session on December 5. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the price determination, the crop is ripe for harvest in the fields. Since the dry season has begun, the farmers are worried that their crops might get damaged for lack of water. Of all of the districts in the country, Sarlahi farmers produce the largest amount of sugarcane. There are three big sugar factories in the district: Indushanker Sugar Factory in Hariwon, Mahalaxmi Sugar Factory in Bagdaha and Annapurna Sugar Factory in Dhankauli.
Annapurna Sugar Factory, which remained closed last year, is preparing for the operation this year. Yognarayan Rajak, Indushanker Sugar Factory Manager, said that they were preparing for sugar crushing now. “It will take a maximum of two months to crush all the sugarcane grown because of meagre production,” he added.
However, the experts in the sector have different lens to observe the issue. Financial expert Manikratna Aryal said that a team of experts just returned from the field visit of 22 sugarcane cultivating districts. “Now we will prepare a report and submit it to the government, which will then fix the price of the crop based on this document,” he added. Aryal added that the team had collected details of 30 Sarlahi farmers before they returned to Kathmandu and that the authorities would make final calculations to figure out an appropriate price.
The government had fixed Rs. 536 for a ton of sugarcane last year, but the factories paid only Rs. 471. And the government subsidized Rs. 65 to the farmers for their produce. However, the farmers seemed unhappy with the price because it was not kept up in line with the increased price of fertilizer, labour cost and others.