Sugarcane farmers in Far-West face troubles

DHANGADHI: The sugarcane harvest in Kailali and Kanchanpur districts have been compromised due to lack of monsoon rain. Sugarcane fields in Punarbas and Belauri areas of Kanchanpur district have been especially affected by the drought.

Amar Bahadur Sunar, Chairperson of Keshari Sugarcane Production Group, Punarbas, said the sugarcane farm that belongs to the group, extending on 99 bigaha land, has started drying due to lack of rain. He informed that the sugarcane is highly dependent on irrigation as compared to other crops.

Similar is the plight of all sugarcane farms, covering the area of 1,200 bigaha in Punarbas Municipality of Kanchanpur district.

Ramesh Thapa, Sudur-Paschim Sugarcane Production Rights Protection Committee chair, said the farmers were compelled to sow sugarcane seeds that have not been properly tested due to which they have been facing problems in insuring their crops.

Thapa said the insurance companies don't agree to insure the sugarcane if they have been planted without any inspection and suggests that the government should establish a sugarcane research centre.

Farmers are miffed over not being able to earn the value for the quality of crop they provide to mills and continuous delay in payments. Due to bad roads, farmers also struggle to port sugarcane to mills, which adds to their expenditure, added Hari Prasad Oli, chair of Sudur-Paschim Sugarcane Farmers Association.

Moreover, the sugarcane harvest is also damaged by wild animals. Khadak Khadka, a local resident, said that elephants coming from Dudhuwa National Park in India have also caused loss of sugarcane. The electric penny wire that was installed to keep wild elephants away has been damaged and a request for repair has not been addressed yet.

Meanwhile, chairperson of Nepal Red Cross Society-Kailali, Uttam Joshi, said that they have insured the sugarcane planted by farmers on the riverbanks in Punarbas and Belauri region, under the disaster management programme operated in partnership with Mercy Corps Nepal.

(Translated by Madhavi Marasini)