Farmers demand sugarcane price at Rs562 per quintal

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Oct 28, 2017-

Sugarcane farmers have demanded a hike of sugarcane rate to Rs562 per quintal from Rs531 per quintal last year, as the crushing season nears. The crushing season begins from mid-November. 

Farmers have demanded that sugar producers fix the rate before the crushing season as the mills have been habitually cheating them. 

Fixing the price of sugarcane is a recurring issue. Every year during harvest time, sugarcane growers and sugar mills confront each other for a customary tug-of-war over fixing the price of cane. Last year too, sugar mills had delayed fixing cane prices. Farmers said that the delay in price fixation had forced them to sell their products on credit. “Last year, farmers were forced to sell their produce at a cheaper rate due to delay in fixing prices,” said Umesh Yadav, president of Sugarcane Producers Association.  Most of the sugarcane farmers did not receive payment for months. “If the prices are not fixed before the crushing season, the mills determine the rate on their own,” he said. 

Farmers said that the mills put them into dilemma. “If we sell the sugarcane at the price offered by mills, we will not be able to recover our production costs. And if we don’t sell, it dries up in the field,” said Yadav. 

Normally, sugar producers determine sugarcane prices based on the rates prevailing in India. Cane producers have been complaining that sugar producers take advantage of the absence of a base price by delaying fixing of cane prices. This forces farmers to sell their produce at cheaper rates.

 Farmers are also forced to sell their sugarcane on credit to prevent the crops from drying up in the fields. Although sugarcane has been declared a national crop, the issue of fixing prices has become a matter of concern for farmers. 

In 2015, the Cabinet had directed the Ministry of Agricultural Development to declared sugarcane “national crop” status. No crop had been declared a national crop before. 

Disillusioned over non-payment of dues, sugarcane growers have been switching to cultivating other crops. This is evident as the farmers involved in sugarcane cultivation have witnessed a noticeable reduction in the past few years. There were 14,000 sugarcane farmers involved in the cane cultivation until few years ago, which has dropped to 7,000 now, according to the association. 

Likewise, the annual output has also dropped significantly. Sugarcane mills used to receive 4 million quintals for crushing, which has halved in the last few years. There are three sugar mills—Lumbini, Bagmati and Indira—in the district that requires 2.5 to 3 million quintals sugarcane. In 2002, the district’s sugarcane production stood at the highest 4.2 million quintals. 

The production dropped to 2.3 million quintals last year. The production ‘command area’ of the crop has dropped to 5,000 hectares this year, from 7,000 hectares last year, according to the association. 

Nepal produced 3.13 million tonnes of sugarcane in 2015-16. 

Sugarcane farming occupied 72,730 hectares of land in 2015-16, according to government statistics.

Published: 28-10-2017 08:37

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