Sugarcane production likely to fall

Kathmandu, February 15

Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) has projected a further drop in the production of sugarcane in the ongoing fiscal year.

Though MoAD is yet to calculate sugarcane output figure of this fiscal, ministry officials have said that production of the crop is certain to be below the previous fiscal year’s production of 2.6 million tonnes.

“The actual production figure of sugarcane will be released within next week. However, our preliminary survey has shown further drop in the production of the crop in the ongoing fiscal year,” informed Ram Krishna Regmi, senior statistician at MoAD.

Sugarcane production in the country has been on a constant decline since fiscal 2013-14 as sugarcane farmers have been increasingly switching to other agricultural products following the repeated ‘price-conflict’ with domestic sugar mills and delay in issuance of payments for their produce from sugar mill operators.

Statistics of MoAD show that sugarcane output of the country in fiscal year 2013-14 was 3.3 million tonnes. Production declined to three million tonnes in 2014-15 and to 2.9 million in 2015-16. Similarly, sugarcane production further dropped to 2.6 million tonnes in 2016-17.

Along with plummeting production of sugarcane, farming area of the crop in the country has also come down drastically in the past few years. Though sugarcane farming was carried on 76,000 hectares of land in 2013-14, sugarcane cultivation area in the country has come down to 67,000 hectares in the ongoing fiscal year.

Kapil Muni Mainali, president of Nepal Sugarcane Producers Federation (NSPF), said that farmers were compelled to switch to other crops as they could never get a reasonable price for their produce.

“Sugar mills not only try to fix low rates for sugarcane but are often reluctant to release payments to farmers on time. Consequently, farmers are finding it hard to sustain themselves on sugarcane farming,” said Mainali, adding that the government too has not been able to facilitate farmers to boost their morale in sugarcane farming.

As per Mainali, sugarcane output will drop further in the coming years if the government fails to take effective measures to encourage sugarcane farmers.

Meanwhile, low sugarcane output is certain to hit sugar production in the country in the ongoing fiscal and increase import of sugar.

It is estimated that the country’s demand for sugar hovers at around 350,000 tonnes in one year while the average annual domestic production of sugar is only around 250,000 tonnes.

Nepal imports almost 100,000 tonnes of sugar from India every year.