Kathmandu, May 21
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) has proposed two programmes worth Rs 68 million to improve sugarcane farming. Aiming to improve production and to manage the market for sugarcane, the programmes have been included in the draft of the budget proposed by the ministry for next fiscal year.
Under these programmes, the ministry has proposed two activities — establishing custom hiring centres and to operate tissue culture laboratories of sugarcane.
According to MoALD, the custom hiring centres will promote mechanisation in farming. As mentioned in the draft of the budget proposal, the ministry will support cooperatives and sugar mills to build custom hiring centres, where farmers will be able to easily get farming machinery, said Binod Bhattarai, information officer at the ministry.
“Farmers will be able to get farming machinery on rent from a particular cooperative or sugar mill of their area. The government will provide agriculture machinery to farmers at subsidised rate or on grant,” Bhattarai added. He further said that the custom hiring centres will minimise the production cost for farmers and also reduce their working time.
“All kinds of necessary machinery used during planting to harvesting will be provided to the custom hiring centres,” Bhattarai said, adding, “Earlier, we had successfully operated the custom hiring centre for Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation project. Hopefully, it will contribute in improving sugarcane farming too.”
Similarly, around Rs 6.5 million from the total budget of these promotional programmes has been proposed for operation of tissue culture laboratories of sugarcane in different places of the country. “In tissue culture laboratories plants are grown in a climate chamber or growth chamber for research, breeding or multiplication,” he said, “It is a high-technology process of producing healthy saplings.”
Bhattarai further said that the tissue culture laboratories will also help in contributing to the researches of new species of sugarcane.
However, it is to be noted that several tissue culture laboratories of different produces have remained closed for a long time across the country due to lack of skilled human resources.
He, however, claimed that the ministry is successfully running tissue culture laboratory for fruits and potatoes.
While the government is bringing new programmes to increase sugarcane production, farmers have been unable to get their due payments from sugar mills. At the same time, sugar mills have also been demanding that the government halt sugar import as domestic sugar is losing market to cheaper imports.
Although the government is urging the farmers and industrialists to sort out the payment issue, there has been no major headway so far.
A few days back, sugarcane farmers from Sarlahi resumed their protest against sugar mills demanding payment for their produce.
A version of this article appears in print on May 22, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.