Fewer farmers growing sugarcane because of payment hassles!
The sugarcane acreage has decreased from 78,609 hectares in 2017-18 to 64,354 hectares in 2020-21, government’s data shows.
Reads a report in the Kathmandu Post
Fed up with the lower price fetched by their produce, the hassle in payments, and the Government’s apathy, more than half of the sugarcane growers have unsurprisingly switched to cultivating other crops.
According to the Federation of Sugarcane Producers Association, Sugarcane would be cultivated in around 18,000 bighas 20 years back but now, it has been reduced to 6,500 bighas of land and output has declined by 50%.
As a result, sugar mills which have the capacity to crush 100,000 tons of sugarcane a day have hardly been crushing 10,000 tons per day.
Out of the 10 operating sugar mills in the country, 4 sugar mills have remained closed since last year and the rest have hardly been operating at 10 percent of their actual production capacity.
According to industry experts, if the current situation continues the sugarcane industry, which is the largest commercial crash crop contributing 2.1% to the Agricultural GDP of Nepal (MoALD) and is the mainstay of more than 0.1 million of active sugarcane farmers (MoALD), will undoubtedly collapse in three to four years.
And where does it lead us to?
Yes, we will be forced to become dependent on imports for sugar.
We have an annual demand of approximately 250 thousand metric tonnes.
That means our import bill surging by another Rs. 12 billion to Rs. 25 billion per year depending on price fluctuations.
How do we revive our sugar industry?
Incentivize our farmers to increase sugarcane farming? But what for when the Government turns a deaf ear when farmers complain about delayed payments.
So bad is the condition that the Government cannot even decide on the minimum support price on time.
The sugarcane harvest season starts in mid-November while the Government announced the minimum support price in mid-January forcing the farmers to sell either at last years’ price or lower than that.