KATHMANDU, Sept 11: Sugar mills are yet to clear dues worth more than Rs 500 million of the sugarcane farmers despite their earlier commitment to settle all the outstanding dues after selling the products.
According to sugarcane farmers, sugar mills have been denying to clear the dues citing prolonged lockdown, which they say made them unable to receive the money of their sold out products.
Hari Shyam Raya, secretary of the Sugarcane Farmers’ Action Committee, said the government has assured to make the sugar producers clear all their dues after the lockdown is lifted. “If the promise is not fulfilled, we will be forced to launch a fresh street protest,” Raya said. Earlier in January last year, the agitating farmers had staged a demonstration at Maitighgar area in Kathmandu.
As per the farmers, Shree Ram Sugar Mill is yet to clear the dues of Rs 390 million, the largest of all. Similarly, Annapurna Sugar Mill has not paid Rs 250 million to the farmers. Likewise, Mahalaxmi Mill is still to pay Rs 105 million to the farmers.
Earlier, the sugar producers had assured to give full payment to the farmers once they sold out their stock. As per the Sugar Producers’ Association, the domestic sugar mills produced around 180,000 tons of sugar in the last season and they have sold out almost all of their produce. However, they are still reluctant to clear the farmers’ dues.
There are a dozen sugar mills operating across the country. Except for a few, most of them delay clearing the due amount to farmers almost every year.
Last year, the mill operators even signed an agreement with the farmers, pledging to release the remaining payment to farmers within 45 days of the purchase of sugarcane. Although the government has since then repeatedly directed the mill owners to clear dues to the farmers on time, this has hardly put pressure on the mill owners to clear the dues to farmers.