December 7: The government has been dilly-dallying in fixing the support price of sugarcane. On top of that, it has also shown lack of interest in the payment of subsidies of Rs 520 million to the farmers.
The government has not fixed the support price due to the differences with the Sugarcane Producers and Farmers' Federation regarding the support price. The farmers are preparing to protest to put pressure on the government which is delaying in releasing the subsidy.
Farmers have been forced to sell sugarcane at cheap prices due to the delay in fixing the support price.
Harishyam Rai, secretary of the Sugarcane Farmers' Struggle Committee, Sarlahi, informed that some farmers are selling sugarcane at the same price as last year due to the government’s delayed in fixing the support price.
According to him, sugarcane starts to dry after being left in the field for a long time, due to which both yield and weight decrease, and farmers are forced to sell sugarcane as they can’t wait for the government to fix the support price.
Although the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development held a meeting at the ministry on Sunday to discuss the issue of fixing the support price, the price determination process was halted after the representatives of sugarcane farmers disagreed with the price proposed by the ministry.
Kapil Muni Mainali, president of the Sugarcane Producers and Farmers’ Federation, informed that after the ministry proposed to add only Rs 11 to last year's price, they rejected the offer.
Last year, the government had fixed the price of Rs 610 per quintal. "This year, the government tried to fix the price by adding Rs 11 to the price of last year and set the price at only Rs 621 per quintal," President Mainali said, "The production cost of the farmer stands at Rs 600 per quintal including transportation cost. How can there be agreement in such a situation?”
Farmers are yet to receive Rs 520 million in subsidy from the government for the sale of sugarcane last year. Last year, the government paid only Rs 80 million out of Rs 132 million subsidies to the farmers.
Spokesperson for the ministry Sabnam Sivakoti said that the biggest complaint of the farmers is not getting the due amount. According to her, the payment could not be sent on time due to lack of budget.
“So far sugarcane farmers in nine districts have received full payment. The farmers of Sarlahi, Nawalparasi and Kanchanpur are yet to receive subsidies.”
Sivakoti said that the ministry has sent a letter to the Ministry of Finance for the release of the budget, the latter did not respond.
There are currently 10 industries producing sugar in Nepal. Based on the data of the National Census 2078, a total of 294,453 tons of sugar is consumed in Nepal every year.