Sugarcane price difference hits farmers

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, January 16:

Difference in sugarcane prices in the bordering areas between Nepal and India has hit Nepali sugarcane farmers. They prefer to sell sugarcane to the Indian mills rather than to the domestic one.

Prem Chandra Gupta, spokes-person of Sugarcane Farmers Union, urged to take the issues seriously and initiate measures to adjust the price at par with the Indian price. “Otherwise the domestic mills will not get sufficient sugarcane leading them to closure and short supply of sugar in the country, he warned. He was speaking at a press meet organised by the union, today. “More than 15,000 farmers are involved in the sugarcane farming in Nawalparasi district alone and the government is yet to declare sugarcane as a national crop, which has discouraged farmers towards its cultivation,” Gupta said.

The sugarcane production is declining every year. During the fiscal year 2002-03 the production was 1.3 million quintal and in 2003-04 it declined to 0.8 million quintal, he said.

Following the closure of Birgunj Sugar Factory, the only state-owned Lumbini Sugar Factory decreased the price of sugarcane from Rs 141 to Rs 132 and most of the farmers sold the sugarcane to Indian sugar mills, Gupta informed. This year the Uttar Pradesh government has increased the sugarcane price to Rs 172.20 per quintal whereas the sugarcane price is Rs 145 in Nepal, which is less by Rs 27. “This price difference lures the farmer to the Indian markets,” he said adding that the government fix sugarcane price at par with Indian prices.

Dr Hari Krishna Upadhaya, member of National Planning Commission stressed need of stretching market access to encourage farmers.

Hom Nath Dahal, minister for agriculture and cooperatives admitted the inefficiency of the government .