SARLAHI, March 6: Sugarcane farmers in the district are agitated as the government has failed to provide them the promised subsidy, and their due amounts from the sugar mills have piled up for the past two years.
Following a transportation halt in the district by farmers on February 19 on the East-West Highway, a consensus was reached between the government and the farmers, according to which subsidies would be provided within seven days. However, two weeks have already passed without any money being given to the farmers.
At a press meet organized on Tuesday, representatives of various associations of sugarcane farmers threatened to start protests if payments were not made within three days. With both the government and sugar mills delaying payments, farmers now face dire financial crisis.
Kapilmuni Mainali, chairman of Nepal Sugarcane Producers Federation, complained that farmers are facing serious financial problems as they have not received payments for the past two years.
"Without any other source of income, farmers may face starvation," Mainali said, adding, "Many are now compelled to flee their homes, being unable to pay the dues of their laborers and transporters."
Sugar mills are required to pay Rs 471.28 per quintal of sugarcane, while the government will provide subsidy of Rs 65.28 per quintal, as per the government decision.
Mainali complained that despite commitments from the prime minister, finance minister, agriculture minister, and industry minister, no action has been taken so far.
On February 19, an agreement was reached between sugarcane farmers and the government, according to which the farmers had to provide details including their names, location, and farming area to the local units for subsidy. The latter would verify this information with the district administration and release the payments.
The information would also be verified by sugar mills, after which money would be transferred to the farmers' bank accounts.
However, two weeks after the meeting, both the sugar mills and government are yet to make the payments. The farmers have accused the government of ignoring their concerns.
Meanwhile, Chief District Office Dron Pokhrel said that the payments will be made within the next three days. The District Treasury Office Sarlahi has been holding Rs 260.7 million of the subsidy money since last September.