By Janarjan Khatri, Sarlahi, Feb.18: Sugar mills of Sarlahi are now facing a shortage of sugarcane.
Indushankar Sugar Mill of Hariwan and Mahalaxmi Sugar Mill of Gaudaita in the district are facing the shortage. After the farmers stopped supplying sugarcane to them, the industries are unable to get the canes.
Mahalaxmi Sugar Mill located in the southern border area is now using the Indian sugarcane. Local farmers have complained that the industry is illegally importing Indian sugarcane through brokers, and it was not showing any interest to pay their dues.
Chief of Gaudaita Municipality Devendra Yadav, who is also a sugarcane farmer, said that Mahalaxmi Mill, which started crushing sugarcane on December 30 last year, had so far paid only for the sugarcanes sold in the first week.
Mayor Yadav complained that even though he sold sugarcane worth Rs. 1.2 million to the sugarcane industry, he was paid only Rs. 200,000 so far.
Birendra Kumar Srivastava, administrative manager of the mill, said that the payment of sugarcane farmers would be made regular now.
He admitted that he was operating the industry by importing Indian sugarcane after facing a shortage of local sugarcane.
According to him, the industry has so far crushed 770,000 quintals of sugarcane.
The industry, which has a capacity to crush 25,000 quintals of sugarcane a day, is currently crushing only 15,000-16,000 quintals due to shortage of sugarcane, he said.
Similarly, Indushankar Sugar Mill, Hariwan, is in operation using the local sugarcane.
However, the mill, which has the capacity to crush 50,000 quintals of sugarcane daily, is crushing only 23,000-24,000 quintals of sugarcane a day, said Yoganarayan Rajak, manager of the industry.
The mill has so far crushed 1.166 million quintals of sugarcane. The sugarcane farmers are satisfied with Indushankar as it was paying them regularly.
The mill has already paid Rs. 590 million up to the third installment, said Rajak.
Kapil Muni Mainali, president of Nepal Sugarcane Producers’ Association, said that the farmers were happy with Indushankar as it was paying the farmers.
He said that the sugarcane farmers were disappointed this year as some other mills, including Mahalaxmi, did not pay them in time.
According to Mainali, some industries have ignored the sugarcane of local farmers after getting Indian sugarcane at a cheaper rate.
"The mill owners should give first priority to the sugarcane supplied by local farmers," said Mainali.
Of the three sugar mills of Sarlahi, Annapurna Sugar Mill, Dhankaul, has remained closed since last year.
The industry had paid the previous year's payment only a week ago after the owner of the mill, Rakesh Agrawal, was taken into police custody.