Low price, high transportation costs hit sugarcane farmers

- Aman Koirala, Manoj Poudel, Sarlahi

Jan 11, 2016-

Sugarcane farmers in the inner Tarai region have been dealt a double whammy of low price and high transportation costs.

While transporters are charging higher fares citing their compulsion to purchase fuel in the black-market at higher rates, the sugarcane prices are lower than last year’s.

Bikash Shah, a farmer based in Laxmipur, said the surge in transportation costs has reduced profit margin. “On one hand, we are compelled to purchase diesel at Rs160 per litre and operate tractors for transporting our produce to the mills, and on the other, the price of sugarcane has come down,” he said.

With eroding profit margin, the farmers are considering abandoning sugarcane farming and planting other cash crops by this year’s end.

The farmers have so far supplied more than 250 tractors load of sugarcane to Indu Shankar sugar mill in Hariwan. 

According to tractor driver Suresh Ram, the tractors charge Rs75 per quintal to the farmers, up from last year’s Rs65. “The transportation cost has been hiked by Rs10 to Rs50 per quintal based on the distance. If the government provides us diesel, we can ship sugarcane at the cost same as last year’s,” Ram said.

Bijaykant Jha, General Manager of Indu Shankar Sugar Mill, admitted the farmers have been compelled to ship sugarcane on their own, which has hit them hard.

Kapil Dev Ray, a farmer located some 35km away from the mill lamented, the higher transportation costs meant no profit for him. 

“Not the sugarcane, but we, the farmers, are being crushed. Since sugarcane cannot be stocked, we don’t have any option but to transport the produce to the mills at any cost,” Ray said.

Devendra Yadav, a farmer from Ranigang, some 10km away from the sugar mill, paid Rs10 per quintal higher for transporting his produce. 

He said the sugarcane price this year has dropped by Rs13 per quintal, and the higher transportation costs compounded the situation. 

“Since I am located not much far, the loss isn’t that huge. But for farmers far away, they will not make profits this year,” he said.

Published: 11-01-2016 09:03

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