Petroleum shortage leaves Tarai sugarcane farmers in the lurch

- Aman Koirala, Sarlahi

Nov 29, 2015-

As the sugarcane harvest season begins, farmers in Tarai have been facing difficulties

in transporting their produce to mills due to severe fuel shortages.

Sugar mills normally start cane crushing from mid-December.

The fuel shortage has put both sugarcane farmers and mills in dire straits. If the fuel crisis prolongs, farmers will not be able to supply their produce to the mills, resulting in a huge losses. On the other hand, due to extended load-shedding hours during winter, mills operation will be hit hard amid a fuel shortage.

Sugarcane is cultivated on around 23,000 hectares of land in the district. Mill operators said more than 6,000 trucks are required daily to transport sugarcane from fields to the mills.

Ram Ekwal Raya, a farmer from Harkatwa, said the prolonged Tarai unrest was certain to result in huge losses. “A large number of trucks and tractors are required to transport our produce to the mills,” he said. “As fuel is not available, we cannot afford buy fuel from the black-market.”

Gyan Prasad Bhattarai, proprietor of Annapurna Sugar Mill, said a mill needs 400 trucks on an average to transport sugarcane from farmers fields daily.

There are 10 sugar mills in central Tarai districts. “The problem has become severe,” he said, adding farmers cannot wait for a longer period as doing so could result in the canes drying up in the fields.

Akshya Lal Raut, another farmer from Dhangada, said diesel cost Rs200 per litre in the black market. “It is wise to abandon the crop than supplying it to the mills using such an expensive fuel,” he said, adding if the Tarai unrest is not resolved immediately, it could affect thousands of farmers this season.

Farmers have urged the government and the agitating Madesh-based parties to be serious towards their problems. “Why are farmers made victims every time?” Raya questioned.

Palpa ginger farmers worried

PALPA: Ginger farmers in the district have not been able to export their produce to India due to transportation problems amid Tarai unrest. Krishna Bahadur Kunwar, a farmer from Palungmainadi who had sold ginger worth Rs 60,000 last year, is worried that his crop would rot this year. Not only Kunwar, a huge number of farmers from Bhairavsthan, Thimure, Mujhang and other villages are worried. They said handsome income last year encouraged them to double their plantation this year. According to the District Agriculture Office, ginger is cultivated on 1,210 hectares. Ginger worth more than Rs120 million is exported to India each year. (PR)

Published: 29-11-2015 09:31

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