Laxmi Capital News
Closure of sugar mill affects Rautahat farmers

Thousands ofsugarcane farmers in Rautahat district are suffering as abrupt closure ofGaruda-based Shree Ram Sugar Mills has forced them tosell canes to middlemen at lower price.

The mill owesRs 620 million to farmers. It purchased sugarcanes worth Rs 520 million in thecurrent fiscal year but made payments worth only Rs 70 million, according toAshok Kumar Yadav, president of Sugarcane Producers Association, Rautahat. “Themill also has not paid farmers for sugarcanes worth Rs 170 million purchased inthe last fiscal year,” he added.

At least13,000 farmers have canes ready for harvest in their field. Closure of thesugar mill in the middle of crushing season has compelled them to sell theirproduce at lower price. 

“Compared toour cost of production, price offered by middlemen is peanuts,”KameshwarSahani, a leading farmer of Rautahat, told Republica. “I sold Rs500,000 worth of sugarcane to Shree Ram Sugar Mills. However, I have notreceived even a penny from the transaction,” he said, adding, “I spent Rs 7,000per kattha for sugarcane production. I don't know when I will get payment.”

With Shree RamSugar Mills shutting operation, local farmers have no option but to sell theirproduce to Everest Sugar Mills of Mahottari. Although the government has setminimum support price of sugarcane at Rs 531.2 per quintal, middlemen areoffering only Rs 350 per quintal. Farmers say local authorities are turning ablind eye toward prejudices against them. 

Local farmersstarted selling canes to middlemen after they came to know that farmers inParsa district were selling canes to a Bara-based mill at lower price afterfinding no buyer. Now, the Bara-based mill has stopped buying sugarcane fromParsa as it has not been able to crush sugarcane grown in Bara district.However, sources say that the mill is buying sugarcane from Parsa farmers atlower price in a clandestine manner.

Meanwhile,taking advantage of the situation, local jaggery producers are buying canesfrom farmers at far lower rates. They are found offering farmers mere Rs250-300 per quintal. 

Local farmershave government to take strong against mills and middlemen so that they getfair price for their products. They say high-handedness of mill and middlemenwill increase further if action against them is not taken on time. 

Source : MyRepublica, 27th March 2018

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