Govt fails to fulfil its promise to sugarcane farmers

Kathmandu, January 21

The government has been unable to keep its word that it would make industrialists clear the dues of sugarcane farmers by today.

The government had given a deadline of today for the sugar mill industrialists to pay all money owed to sugarcane farmers, which amounted to around Rs one billion from 10 sugar mills. While only a few farmers have been given a fraction of the money owed to them, the total payment made till date is a paltry Rs 157.5 million.

According to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, out of the total payment, Mahalaxmi Sugar Mill has provided Rs 100 million, Annapurna Sugar Mill gave Rs 39 million while around Rs 8.5 million was recovered from other sugar mills.

“However, none of the sugar mills have cleared their entire dues or said by when they plan to do so,” informed Rajesh Yadav, a member of Sugarcane Farmers’ Struggle Committee.

While the farmers are in the dark about the details of who all have been paid, Yadav further said, “Some of our farmer friends who have received the payment have said they have only been given a fraction of the money owed to them by the mills.”

He further accused the government of attempting to dupe the farmers in conjunction with industrialists.

As per Yadav, the industry minister’s secretariat informed that the industrialists have communicated with them stating that the latter will clear their dues within two months. “We came to know about the communication between the secretariat and the industrialists only after we gave them a buzz, while neither the secretariat nor the industrialists felt the need to inform us.”

Thereafter the farmers’ struggle committee had contacted Mahalaxmi Sugar Mills and were told that the mill would clear its dues within two weeks.

According to Yadav, the struggle committee is holding a meeting tomorrow. “Since we have lost all hopes from the government, we will decide through the meeting tomorrow on how to recover our payment,” he added.

On January 3, farmers had withdrawn their week-long protest after inking a five-point agreement with the government. The agreement had mentioned that the government would play a role to make industrialists clear their dues by January 21.

Moreover, the farmers are yet to receive the subsidy amount from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD). According to MoALD, Rs 920 million of the total subsidies worth Rs 1.37 billion has been released to the local governments and they are supposed to distribute the amount. However, the farmers are yet to receive it. The government has been providing subsidy of Rs 60 per quintal to sugarcane farmers.