Mills, government owe Nawalparasi sugarcane farmers Rs 520 million

Published On: December 5, 2019 12:14 PM NPT By: Rekha Bhusal

BUTWAL, Dec 5: Anita Chaudhary of Pratappur Rural Municipality in Nawalparasi has been planting sugarcane on one bigha of land hoping that the cash crop will help bail her family out of poverty. But the crop has further aggravated the situation.

"We couldn't harvest cane grown in eight kattha of land last year as mills in our area wrapped up crushing season rather early last year," Anita told Republica. "We had to use the canes as firewood, and borrow money from others to buy food and other daily essentials." 

According to Anita, she needs to repay the amount with interest within six months. 

She had sold canes grown in 10 kattha on credit to Indira Sugar Mills last year. But the mill has not paid her till now. 

"I visit the mill every two-three days with the hope that I will get payment for the canes. But, I don't know when it will pay us," she added.

The story of Guddu Singh of Bashiyan in Pratappur-7 is no different. He sold 500 quintals of canes to Indira Sugar Mills in March. The mill owes him Rs 235,000. But Guddu says he doesn't know when the mill will pay him.

"Months have passed since the mill asked for copy of purchase slip for release of payment. But we haven't received even a penny," he added.

Sudhama Koiri of Piparpati had planted sugarcane in six bigha of land including some plots leased from others. He also had sold canes to Indira Sugar Mills. Like others, he also hasn't received any payments. "Most of the cane farmers in the district are suffering," he added.

Anita, Guddu and Sudhama are among thousands of farmers who are suffering from indifference of sugar mills. Mills owe these farmers more than Rs 440 million, excluding government subsidy, for canes purchased earlier this year. While purchasing canes, the mill management had assured farmers that payments will be released within a month. But it has already been seven months since the mill management made the assurance. 

Sugar mills in the district crushed 1.3 million quintals of canes worth around Rs 680 million this season. But most of them have not released payments to farmers. Bagmati Khadasari Mill of Kudiya has paid only Rs 230 million even though it had crushed canes worth Rs 360 million. Likewise, Indira Sugar Mills owe farmers Rs 190 million.

Umesh Chandra Yadav, chairperson of Sugarcane Producers Association, Nawalparasi, said Indira Sugar Mills has not even released payments worth Rs 15 million for canes purchased in the previous season. 

Sambhu Prasad Marasini, chief district officer of Nawalparasi, told Republica that the local administration had given multiple ultimatums to the sugar producers to clear their outstanding dues to farmers. 

Farmers, however, argue that the local administration was taking softer stand toward mills due to pressure of political and business leaders. "When we take delegations to the local administration, they direct mills to clear our payments at the soonest. But, the local administration does not follow up the matter," said another farmer Biswa Bandhu Yadav. 
Not only from the mills, farmers are suffering also from the government's indifference to them. Local farmers are yet to receive around Rs 80 million in subsidy from the government. 

The government has fixed minimum support price of sugarcane for this season at Rs 500 per quintal including government subsidy. While fixing the minimum support price, the government had announced subsidy of Rs 35 per quintal.

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