Delayed sugarcane payments: Errant sugar mill owners will get slap on the wrist

The dilly dallying by the sugar mill to make payments is hurting farmers’ ability to pay their loans who are then unable to purchase fertiliser for the new planting season

Jun 13, 2018-Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Matrika Yadav has issued a warning to arrest sugar mill owners who fail to make payments to sugarcane farmers.

Expressing his commitment to fulfilling the demands of cane farmers who are currently engaged in a sit in protest after padlocking Everest Sugar Mill, Yadav said that mill owners should release the payments immediately to farmers.

Addressing the sit in protest, Yadav said the ministry is trying to solve the farmers’ problems within a week.

Everest Sugar Mill has to pay Rs20 million to farmers. He also urged the Sugarcane Development Board to play an active role for the long term solution of the farmers’ problem. The farmers have been staging the protest for the last three weeks to demand payment for their crops supplied to the sugar mill.

The cane farmers of Mahottari districts continue to be marred by the mill owner’s failure to make payment for their produce on time. Sugarcane has been the major cash crop of the region and majority of the farmers are involved in cane plantation. Farmers usually take loans to finance the cost associated with farming and are supposed to make payments of interest and principal after getting payment for their crops from the sugar mill.

However, the dilly dallying by the sugar mill to make payments is hurting farmers ability to pay their loans. Cane farmers have already planted sugarcane for this season and it is time to use fertilisers. Without any cash, they are unable to purchase fertilisers. “I am yet to make payment for the fertiliser purchased for last year’s crop,” said Mannu Adhikari, a sugarcane farmer of the district. “Under such circumstances, I am unable to get fertiliser to use in this season.” Adhikari is not an isolated case as there are numerous others facing similar problem.

Cane farmers also criticised the government for not being serious in addressing their problems. “It is clear that mill owners are not obeying the minister’s decision,” said Kapil Muni Mainali, president of Sugarcane Producers Association. “It has been three weeks since we have begun staging protest but stakeholders are not serious about our problem.”

Farmers have been demanding payment as per a tripartite agreement signed among the Federation of Sugarcane Producers Association, mills owners and the government’s authority last year. As per the agreement, sugar mills have to clear the dues to the farmers in 30-45 days of sugarcane transaction.  But the farmers complained that Everest Sugar Mill has not cleared the farmer’s dues even after 127 days of purchasing sugarcane from the farmers.

Published: 13-06-2018 10:13

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