Laxmi Capital News
Sugar mill operators to start paying farmers from April 5

Sugar mills,including those that have not paid farmers for sugarcane, purchased many yearsago, have pledged to settle their dues with farmers at the earliest.

Mill operatorsmade the pledge after Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies, MatrikaPrasad Yadav, warned of action against sugar mills not paying farmers on time.
The decision has come as a relief to farmers who are waiting for payments fromthe mills for their crop sold many years ago. 

Mills werefound not paying farmers or making partial payment despite selling sugarproduced by them.

During ameeting with sugar mill operators and representatives of farmers held onSaturday, Minister Yadav had threatened to mobilize police personnel to arrestmill operators if they failed to come up with payment schedule immediately.

Talking toRepublica on Sunday, Minister Yadav said: “Initially, sugar mill operators hadrefused to come forth with payment schedule. But they agreed to releasepayments after I warned them of needful action.”

Ministry officialssay almost all the mills have, through letters and telephone calls, promised tobegin distributing payments to farmers from April 5. The ministry, however, hasnot received such letters from ill operators as Sunday was a public holiday,Yadav added. 

Sugar millsstarted delaying payments to farmers from 2009 when farmers waged a series ofstrikes demanding fair price for their cash crop. As a result of the protest,the government started fixing minimum support price for sugarcane. This isprobably the first time that a sitting minister has warned sugar mills, whohave been making huge profit by leaving farmers high and dry, of strong actionif they failed to pay farmers on time.

President ofNepal Sugarcane Producers Federation Kapil Muni Mainali, who also attended themeeting with on Saturday, is hopeful that farmers will receive payment on timethis year. “But I am still not confident because mills have been given abouttwo weeks to start payment,” he said.

Mainaliclaimed that sugar mills owe farmers a total of around Rs 9.5 billion.
“I was aware of the fact that farmers were not receiving payment from mills ontime for the past many years. It happened because the past governments did notpay attention to woes of farmers,” he said, adding: “I have also asked milloperators to inform the ministry if they have any problem.”

ShashiAgrawal,chairman of Nepal Sugar Mills Association, could not be reached for commentsdespite Republica's repeated attempts through phone calls and text messages.

Meanwhile,  Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Matrika PrasadYadav, told Republica that sugarcane farmers will get Rs 536.56 per quintalthis season.

“This time Iwill get the minimum support price endorsed by the cabinet,” Yadav said. 
Farmers say one of the reasons behind the reluctance of mill operators to makepayment to farmers on time is the delay in fixing minimum support price.Government attempts to forge consensus. As it does not become possible most ofthe times, mill operators do not pay farmers until minimum support price isfixed.

Minimumsupport price was Rs 531 per quintal last season. 

Crushingseason begins from mid-November and continues till April. 

Nepal hadproduced 130,000 tons of sugarcane in the last season. Sugarcane production isestimated to reach 170,000 tons this year as many farmers are attracted towardthis crop due to the attractive price of last season.

Source: My Republica, 26th March, 2018

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