Sugarcane farmers deprived of payment, subsidy

Kathmandu, November 24

Even months after sugarcane crushing was closed, sugar mills have not paid farmers. The government has also not provided subsidies to all sugarcane farmers.

The government had fixed the minimum sugarcane price at Rs 536 per quintal last year, including government subsidy of Rs 65 per quintal. Chair of Sugarcane Farmers Association of Nepal Raj Kumar Upreti said the government had released the subsidy amount but due to bureaucratic hassles, farmers had not been able to get the subsidy. He said sugar mills were supposed to pay Rs 471 per quintal to farmers, but they paid only Rs 466.

“The committees mandated to release subsidies tell us to bring copies of our land ownership certificates and recommendation letter from ward offices. All farmers don’t have land ownership certificates. Many cultivate others’ land,” Upreti said adding that the district committee mandated to release subsidy had told farmers to submit documents to district headquarters. “Government officials do not know that ordinary farmers do not know how to fill forms, stating the land plot number and other details,” he added.

Upreti said the government was yet to pay Rs 30 to 40 million in subsidies to farmers. Similarly, mill owners are yet to pay one billion rupees. Upreti said mill owners had pledged to pay farmers within 45 days after crushing sugarcane, but did not keep their word.

Chair of Nepal Sugarcane Procedures Federation Kapil Mani Mainali said farmers were running out of patience. “Do we always have to hit the streets to get payment for our products?” Mainali asked and added that the new rules of the ministry incorporated provisions whereby farmers would have to either produce copies of land ownership or contract for cultivating others’ land and also approval letter from mill owners for sugarcane cultivation.

Upreti said the government should provide subsidy on the basis of the record of production kept by sugar mill operators. Mainali and Upreti said sugarcane farmers could hit the streets soon if the government did not address their problems.

Secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Yama Kumari Khatiwada said the ministry would organise a meeting with all stakeholders, including farmers’ association and mill operators on Tuesday to find a solution.

She said her ministry wanted to solve the problem. “At present, everybody — sugarcane farmers, mill operators and consumers rue that they are not getting a good deal. We have to know the real cost of production of sugarcane and sugar to solve the row between sugarcane farmers and mill owners,” she added.