Sugarcane farmers stage hunger strike in Malgangawa, Sarlahi, on Sunday. Photo: Tanka Chhetri/Republica
Demand sugar mills to settle outstanding dues
SARLAHI, May 20: Sugarcane farmers of Sarlahi have started a relay hunger strike in district headquarters Malangawa, demanding full payment of sugarcane purchased by the mills last season.
As many as 12 farmers participated in the strike on Sunday.
Local farmers say two sugar mills – Annapurna Sugar Mills and Mahalaxmi Sugar Mill – have only paid them Rs 500 per quintal, lower than the minimum support price of Rs 536.56 per quintal fixed by the government. They have formed Sugarcane Farmers’ Struggle Committee to draw the attention of the mills and the concerned government agencies toward their demands.
Ramsogarath Raya, coordinator of the struggle committee, said that they won’t stop the relay hunger strike until they are paid the prices fixed by the government. “Many farmers have taken loan to grow canes. They will be in loss if they aren’t paid the price fixed by the government,” he added.
Abhaya Kumar Singh, the mayor of Balara Municipality, and Rakesh Mishra, joint general secretary of Rastriya Janata Party, are also participating in the strike to show their solidarity with the farmers.
Local farmers say that they were forced to start relay hunger strike after local administration did nothing to address their demands. They had submitted a memorandum to District Administration Office, Sarlahi four days ago, giving it a 72-hour ultimatum to address their demands.
According to the struggle committee, Annapurna Sugar Mills alone owes nearly Rs 120 million to the local farmers for sugarcane purchased in 2018. This year it purchased 907,692 quintals of canes. It is still to pay Rs 540 million to farmers for sugarcane purchased their year.
Likewise, Mahalaxmi Sugar Mills owes farmers more than Rs 530 million.
Similarly, farmers are yet to receive Rs 1.22 billion from Indu Shankar Sugar Mills. It has paid farmers only Rs 430 million. The mill, which is the largest in the country, crushed 3.5 million quintals of canes this year.
Though the government has taken a policy of increasing farm products, it is not taking needful initiatives to release payment of farmers. Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Matrika Yadav had initially made attempts to force sugar mills to pay farmers. But he has also remained indifferent to farmers’ woes.