Sugar mill agrees to compensate farmers

Bara

Jul 30, 2014-

Reliance Sugar Mill of Manaharwa in Bara district has agreed to compensate sugarcane farmers for failure to buy their crops as contracted. The mill said that it would pay the farmers at the rate of Rs 226 per quintal and had set aside Rs 8 million for the purpose. However, the growers said that the amount was only half of what had been agreed upon for this season.

Sugarcane prices had been fixed at Rs 476 per quintal for this season, Rs 5 less than during the last season. Prices are revised every year.  Farmers have been doing the rounds of the mill and the district administration office demanding compensation as 30,000 quintals of standing sugarcane had dried in the fields. Sugar factories usually make an agreement with farmers to buy a certain quantity of sugarcane before it is harvested.

Reliance Sugar Mill ended the crushing process earlier this year, and farmers are upset that it did not buy 30,000 quintals of sugarcane as it had agreed to. The issue was later settled by the administration and the mill agreed to compensate the growers.  Shivanath Sharma, manager of the mill, said that there was surplus production this year, and they had not been able to crush around 30,000 quintals.

“As the mill was closed for three weeks due to a disagreement between the sugar producer and sugarcane growers over prices, we were forced to stop crushing part of the crop,” Sharma added.

Asharfi Lal Sah, vice-president of the Farmers Welfare Struggle Committee, said that more than 40,000 quintals of sugarcane had dried in the fields due to the mill’s negligence. However, the mill has offered compensation for only 30,000 quintals. “Farmers lost more than Rs 20 million as a result.”

Farmers said that the mill had earlier announced that it would buy the entire crop and had distributed consignment slips, but it stopped production fearing there would be excess supply. Reliance has a capacity to crush around 2,000 tonnes of sugarcane daily.

On May 6, a government-led committee had fixed sugarcane prices ending a four-month dispute between sugarcane farmers and sugar producers. As the government usually does not fix the rates and the factories and farmers are told to sort things out themselves, tensions flare up every year.

This year, however, the government was forced to take up the issue after Constituent Assembly members criticized it for neglecting the grievances of the farmers.

Sugarcane is grown on 70,000 hectares in 17 districts. Sarlahi, Mahottari and Nawalparasi are the main producers of sugarcane in the country.

Published: 31-07-2014 09:33

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