HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Sugarcane farmers have threatened to take to the streets‚ if their demands are not met in a day. “We will take to the streets from Thursday‚ if the government fails to address our problem‚” said Prem Dangal‚ general secretary of All Nepal Peasants Federation a programme organised in the Reporters’ Club here today.
Sugarcane farming accounts for 70‚ 000 hectors of land in seventeen districts in the Terai region‚ according to Prem Prasad Gupta‚ spokesperson of Sugarcane Producer Farmers’ Committee (SPFC). “Nepali market needs 1.5 million tonne sugar a year and while sugarcane available is sufficient to produce only one million tonne‚” he said.
However‚ the government is not addressing to the problems faced by sugarcane farmers‚ choosing to import sugar‚ he added.
Despite caretaker Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal’s pledge to solve the problem at the earliest‚ sugarcane farmers have decided to continue their protest unless the government fixes the price of sugarcane.
The PM directed the secretaries of Ministry of Finance‚ Agriculture and Cooperatives and Ministry of Industry to create an environment of consensus with agitating sugarcane farmers‚ who have been agitating for last couple of days to put pressure on the government to fix the rate of sugarcane.
Sugarcane farmers picketed District Administration Office (DAO) in 17 districts yesterday‚ according to Nepal Sugarcane Producer Farmers’ Union (NSPF).
“Last year‚ the government had fixed the rate up to Rs 570 per quintal but this year the rate is yet to be fixed‚” said Keshab Prasad Mainali‚ Constituent Assembly (CA) member and president of Chure Bhawar National Party. “Some 2 million farmers’ lives are at stake due to delay in fixing the rate of sugarcane‚” he added.
Dangal said that Nepal used to have 30 million quintal sugarcane production till 2002-03 but now it has come down to 20 million quintal a year. “Had the government helped‚ we could have met the domestic demand by now‚” he said.
Issuing a joint press release today‚ All Nepal Peasants Federation‚ Chure Bhawar National Party‚ Nepal Sugarcane Producer Farmers’ Union‚ Sugarcane Producer Farmers’ Committee and Sugarcane Farmer Welfare Committee have demanded the government to come up with programmes to solve the problem.
They have asked the government to hold an urgent interaction with the farmers to fix the price of sugarcane‚ bring sugarcane farming and sugar mill industry under the Ministry of Agriculture and form a Sugarcane Development Board.