KATHMANDU, March 4: Sugarcane production declined by almost half in the past three years after farmers turned apathetic to planting the raw material of sugar, citing the delay in getting payment from the sugar mills.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoAD), sugarcane production in 2020/21 stood at 1.19 million tons, a straight drop from 2.08 million tons in the fiscal year 2018/19. Lack of improved hybrid seeds, low productivity and uncertainty in receiving payments, among others, have been identified as the main reasons behind the huge downfall in the production of sugarcane.
Due to a massive fall in production of the raw material, there are just nine sugar factories operating across the country, from over two dozen factories a few years ago. With a fall in domestic production, sugar import has also been escalating year after year. According to government records, Nepal imported sugar worth Rs 4.27 billion in 2019/20, up from Rs 3.12 billion in the previous year.
Meanwhile, the sugarcane farmers are yet to be paid Rs 75.90 million by the sugar mills. The government records show that each of Shree Ram Sugar Mill and Annapurna Sugar Mill owes Rs 31.30 million, Indira Sugar Mill Rs 10.60 million, Himalayan Sugar Mill Rs 2.41 million and Lumbini Sugar Mill owes Rs 420,000 to the farmers.