Support price for sugarcane fixed

KATHMANDU, March 27: Sugarcane growers will now receive payments from sugar mills as the government today fixed the support price of sugarcane. After more than two months of deliberations and discussions, the government set the price at Rs 461 per quintal. Last year, it had been fixed at Rs 476 per quintal.

Farmers had been sending sugarcane to the mills without taking any charge due to the delay in the price being fixed.

The government had formed the Sugarcane Price Fixation Committee under the leadership of the joint secretary of the Ministry of Industry (MoI), which comprised officials of Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD). The committee, however, failed to fix the price despite numerous rounds of meetings with the cane growers and sugar mill owners.

The process to fix the price gathered momentum after the Cabinet meeting of February 26 instructed MoI to fix the price in coordination with MoAD at the earliest. The crushing season of sugarcane is about to be over for this year, as per Kapil Muni Mainali, president of Nepal Sugarcane Producers Federation.

“There was an understanding that the sugarcane growers would be paid by the sugar mill owners once the government had fixed the price.”

Sugar mills had been reluctant to pay high value for sugarcane citing that they would not be able to compete with imported sugar that was cheaper, which is why it took more time to fix the support price of sugarcane.

Sugarcane, a major cash crop, is being cultivated on 67,000 hectares of land across the country and its annual production stands at 2.96 million tonnes, as per MoAD. Likewise, production of sugar last year stood at around 165,000 tonnes, which was worth Rs 14.26 billion. The annual demand for sugar in the country stands at around 213,000 tonnes, which is met through imports, mainly from India and Brazil.