KATHMANDU, Feb 1: Sugar mills have started facing a shortage of raw material as many farmers decided not to plant sugarcane citing the struggle they are forced to undergo just to receive the payments for their produce every year.
According to the Nepal Sugarcane Producers Association, out of the 10 operating sugar mills in the country, almost all have been facing a short supply of the raw material this year. Kapil Muni Mainali, president of the association, said the situation is triggered mostly as many farmers stopped planting sugarcane citing the problem they have to face almost every year to receive the payment for their produce.
He said officials of most of the sugar mills currently operational have started visiting the sugarcane fields luring the farmers to sell their produce for on-spot cash payment.
The crushing season begins from mid-November every year. However, farmers during this peak season are compelled to come to the capital to stage protests against the non-paying sugar mills, which was the case last December as well. According to the farmers, sugar mills are yet to clear dues worth over Rs 220 million despite the government’s commitment to make sugar producers clear the farmers’ dues.
According to Mainali, four sugar mills have remained closed since last year and the rest have hardly been operating at 10 percent of their actual production capacity. “Due to the shortage of the raw material, sugar mills which have the capacity to crush 100,000 tons of sugarcane a day have hardly been crushing 10,000 tons per day,” he said.
With this reason, there is also a massive fall in sugarcane plantation area. According to the farmers, sugarcane is being produced only in 6,500 bigaha of land in Mahottari district alone, which once observed plantations in 18,000 bigaha of land.