January 25, 2020 01:14 PM NPT
By: Rekha Bhusal
Farmers working in sugarcane fields. Photo: Rekha Bhusal/Republica
NAWALPARASI, Jan 25: Sugarcane farmers in the country were ecstatic when the sugar mills agreed, after the government's pressure, to clear all pending dues to the farmers within January 21. But the sugar mill owners have yet to clear the dues and the farmers are worried that they will be tricked again.
Sugarcane farmers have complained that some of the payment have made its way to the middlemen instead of the farmers. “After the agreement with the government, the factories made the payment to sugarcane middlemen and the farmers returned barehanded,” said Shishupal Koiri of Pratappur-7, Jhulanipur. According to him, though middlemen have benefited from the agreement made with the government, real farmers have not received anything yet. “Those who bought chits from farmers got the payments, farmers like us who are involved in farming have not received the payment,” Koiri said. Koiri is yet to receive Rs 563,000 from Indira Sugar Mill for 1,200 quintals of sugarcane he had supplied last year. He shared that his family is engulfed in loans as he has not received his payment. “Like me, there are many farmers who are compelled to live as borrowers,” he complained.
Indira Sugar Mill, after the agreement with the government, has paid only Rs 7.5 million, but real farmers have not received the amount. After not getting the payment, some of the farmers have sold the chit to middlemen at cheaper prices in order to pay back their loans to the lenders. Middlemen buy a quintal of sugarcane for Rs 300/350 from the farmers and get Rs 471 from the factories.
Farmers have complained that SP Shukla, the manager of the mill is paying the middlemen from the Bardaghat area. Kamalesh Gupta, a farmer of Pratapur-9 Belatar said that when farmers go to the factory asking for payment, the staff tell the farmers that they do not have the authority to make the payment. The factory owes Rs 250,000 to Gupta from last year.
Chairperson of Sugarcane Producers Association, Nawalparasi, Umesh Chandra Yadav said that the farmers have been facing injustice for years. “Farmers visit the factories hundreds of times in a year but have not received their entitlement rather are told off rudely,” he said. He warned of picketing Singha Durbar if the government does not make take action against the sugar mill owners. “We have asked for the payment and we should get it, if not we will be obliged to picket Singhadurbar,” Yadav said.
1.3 million quintals of sugarcane worth Rs 680 million was crushed in Nawalparasi last year. The government provided subsidy of Rs 80 million to the sugar mill owners. According to the farmers, the sugar mills are supposed to pay Rs 610 million to the farmers but they have not received even half of the amount yet.
Indira Sugar Mill owes Rs 132.6 million to the farmers and Bagmati Khandsari Mill owes Rs 86.1 million. Lumbini Sugar Mill which crushed sugarcane worth Rs 100 million last year has not made any payment so far.