Sugarcane drying up in fields as prices yet to be fixed


Local sugarcane farmers have demanded that new prices be fixed for their products before the crushing season starts. As sugar manufacturers have not announced the latest rates for this season, farmers have been caught in a bind.

Sugarcane growers have been repeatedly asking sugar mill owners to review the prices for sugarcane. They said that the new farm gate price should have been determined in September, but two and a half months have passed and it has not happened.

Farmers said that they had been forced to sell sugarcane at lower rates as the new minimum price had not been fixed. They complained that sugar producers, taking advantage of the absence of a base price, had been sending their agents to buy sugarcane indirectly.

Normally, sugar producers determine sugarcane price based on Indian rates. Indian mills have already announced price for this season. But Nepali crusher mills have failed to announce rates pressing farmers to sell their products at a cheaper price. “Delays in fixing the price of sugarcane have forced me to sell it very cheaply,” said Kamurudin Ansari, a local farmer at Narsahi. “I sold two quintals of sugarcane at a low price because I needed money for my household expenses.”

Farmers have been selling sugarcane at Rs 350 to Rs 411 per quintal, which were the prices last year. Ansari complained that farmers had been suffering massive losses as their sugarcane was drying up in the fields while they waited for prices to

be fixed.

The government does not determine sugarcane prices and the Sugarcane Producers’ Farmers Association too has not taken any initiative to press mill owners to act speedily. “Mill owners are wilfully delaying the price announcement so that they can dictate the rates with farmers becoming desperate to sell their products.”

Meanwhile, three meetings have been held between the Sugar Producers’ Association and the Sugarcane Association. However, they failed to reach a conclusion as mill owners stuck to their demands, said Prem Chandra Gupta, central member of the Sugarcane Producers’ Association. “Although Indian mills have fixed the price for sugarcane for this season, Nepali mills are still dillydallying,” Gupta added.

According to Gupta, the price of sugarcane in India has been fixed at IRs 280 per quintal. In Nepali currency, this is equivalent to Rs 498 including Rs 50 VAT.

Posted on: 2012-12-27 09:13