Sugarcane crop stranded

Biratnagar, March 1 :

90,000 quintals of sugarcane in four eastern Terai districts could not get through to their destination due to bandh.

Nepal Sugarcane Farmers’ Association has asked bandh organisers to create a conducive environment so that farmers can ferry their produce to sugar mills. Chances of losing hundreds of millions of rupees by farmers in Morang, Sunsari, Saptari and Siraha loom large. Central secretary of the association, Murari Ghimire asked Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum to clear obstructions. Hundreds of farmers will face bankruptcy if the bandh programme continues, he said.

Although 800,000 quintals of sugarcane in Morang and Sunsari, 500,000 quintals in Siraha, 70,000 quintals in Saptari were harvested, only 1.3 million quintals of sugarcane have been delivered so far to sugar factories, the association said.

Eastern Sugar Mill based at Sunsari’s Amaibela is the only buyer of sugarcane.

2.2 million quintals of sugarcane are produced here annually. Yet demands for Eastern Sugar Mill could not be met, which has been blamed for the frequent bandh programmes.

Rohini Koirala, sugarcane farmer in Sunsari’s Amaibela, said sugarcane started drying up due to the failure of making timely delivery to the factory. Loss of weight might be five kgs per quintal per day, he added.

10,000 families in Morang, Sunsari, Siraha and Saptari have been planting sugarcane on 10,000 bighas of land. Umesh Humagai of Morang Rangeli said they never faced such a big problem in the past.

The association said that farmers harvested sugarcane by mid-February this year and 900,000 quintals of sugarcane are drying up due to the continuous bandh programme. The sugar factory also hesitates to buy dehydrated sugarcane as these do not produce enough sugar.

Meanwhile, Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum and sugarcane farmers of eastern part of Morang have reached an agreement and some portion of the sugarcane have been delivered to the sugar factory.