January 20, 2019 10:33 AM NPT
By: Madan Thakur
RAUTHAT, Jan 20: Several sugar mills across the country have resumed operation, few days after the government fixed sugarcane price.
Nepal Sugar Mill Association had previously stated that the sugar mills would only come into operation if the government and concerned bodies heeded to their demands.
Negotiations between the Mill Association and Nepal Sugarcane Producers Farmers Association had paved the way for mutual agreement on sugarcane price.
As a development after fixing the price, Bajeshowori Sugar Mill and Mahakali Sugar Mill based in Kanchanpur and Indira Sugar Mill and Bagmati Sugar Mill based in Nawalparasi also have come into operation.
Out of the 17 sugar mills in the country, only three -- Annapurna Sugar Mill, Lumbini Sugar Mill, and Eastern Sugar Mill -- are yet to come into operation according to Kapil Muni Mainali, President of Nepal Sugar Mill Association.
Under normal circumstances, the processing season for sugar would start from November. But the disagreement between the farmers and mills resulted in the two-month delay, which is a significant delay for sugar industry.
“We demanded a lower and clearly stated price for sugarcane for this season as we encountered problems relating to 'promises to pay' that were not kept in the past. Sugarcane farmers faced serious problem to get their payment last year, which made the whole sector suffer,” Mainali added.
About 250,000 metric tons of sugar is consumed annually in Nepal. Last year, 20.6 million metric tons of sugarcane was processed to produce 177,000 metric tons of sugar. This year, almost 25 million metric tons of sugarcane has been produced in the nation – a significant increase from last year's 20 million – that has boosted the confidence of the experts and mill entrepreneurs. This, according to them, will most likely result in domestic production dominating the market.
Last year, starting operation around mid-November, the mills were nearing their peak production in January and had wrapped up their processing season by April.