Cane farmers protest over delayed payments

- binod bhandari, Biratnagar

Jan 24, 2015-

Sugarcane producers have launched a protest from Thursday after Eastern Sugar Mill located in Amahi Belaha of Sunsari delayed payments.

Over 7,500 sugarcane farmers from Morang and Sunsari supply their products to the mill. The farmers said the mill owes Rs 250 million to them.

Sampatlal Chaudhary from Amaduwa 3, Sunsari, said he visited the mill more than a dozen times just to receive Rs 200,000, but to no avail.

Jit Bahadur Khadka from the same place said he has yet to receive Rs 60,000 for sugarcane he had supplied to the mill.

“We launched the protest after the factory failed to honour its repeated promises to pay the dues,” said Shivalal Chaudhary, president of Sugarcane Producers Association, Koshi. He said they have barred the factory from selling its products as part of the first phase of the protest.

Last year, the mill purchased sugarcane at Rs 476 per quintal. The factory instantly paid the farmers at the rate of Rs 400 per quintal, and promised to clear the remaining Rs 76 per quintal later. However, the farmers said that they were not paid the due amount.

The factory produced 21,870 tonnes of sugar last year from 265,869.5 tonnes of sugarcane.

The mill, however, claimed it has started paying last year’s dues. Manager Lalit Narayan Thakur said they delayed the payment after they failed to produce quality sugar as most of the raw material purchased last year was substandard.

Thakur claimed they would clear the dues within the next one and half months. He also said the delay in setting the sugarcane price was due to the delay in holding negotiations by associations related to sugar mills and sugarcane producers.

Chaudhary, however, admitted that the delayed payments have hit small-scale sugarcane farmers hard.

By Thursday, the is said to have crushed 58,000 tonnes of sugarcane this season. According to the association, the factory is purchasing sugarcane in credit without fixing the base price.

Published: 25-01-2015 11:02

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