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Sugarcane farmers continue their sit-in protest in Kathmandu



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By Shanti Lama, Kathmandu, Dec. 16: Sugarcane farmers have resumed their sit-in protest at Maitighar, Kathmandu, demanding  the government to recover the due payment from the sugar mills.

Gagandev Yadav, 70, of Ramnagar Rural Municipality-1, Sarlahi, had also participated in the sit-in protest with a poster demanding repayment of dues attached to his chest.

"As Annapurna Sugar Mill's default in paying the due amount, I have come here to join the protest with a hope that the government would take initiatives to provide us the dues," said Yadav.

Yadav has expanded sugarcane farming in 2 Bigaha lands in Sarlahi. Stating that sugarcane farming was the only source of income, he said, "I am yet to receive Rs. 400,000 from the mill. The payment has been due since seven years from 2070 BS. The mill has been lingering the payment till now."

"We sell sugarcanes on credit but the mills sell sugar on cash. But why does the mills hesitate on paying us the due on time?" questioned Yadav, adding "I had taken Rs. 1 million loan from Agriculture Development Bank on 2072 BS. The bank keeps on issuing notice that if the debt is not repaid on time, it would take over the entitlements to our properties."

Yadav further said that they had come to the Capital city seeking the help of government. "My house used to run from the income from sugarcane farming. All the maintenance of 10 grandchildren depends on it. How will we provide education and food to our children now?" he added.

Despite of continuous complaints, the local levels, representatives and political leaders of our area did not address our problem, said Yadav. He said that the farmers would not return at any cost without reaching into a concrete agreement ensuring repayment of the due amount.

"No matter how many days it will take, we are going to stay right here adn protest. We will not return until the sugar mills clear the dues," said Yadav. "I will be ashamed if I return empty-handed.

According to Ramswartha Raya, coordinator of Sugarcane Farmer Struggle Commitee, the agreement made by the sugarcane mills to clear the dues by 21 january 2020 had not been executed until now.

"As the due amount was not paid till January, the farmers had visited Kathmandu on March, last year to protest. But due to the threat of COVID-19 followed by lockdown, they had to return immediately," said Raya.

He added that the protest would not stop now until the dues are paid.