A group of five sugarcane farmers from Sarlahi has come to Kathmandu as the various sugar mills have not cleared their dues.

The group hosted a press conference in Koteshwor on Thursday and announced that they will stage protest yet again if their dues are not cleared immediately.

Rambilas Mahato of Sisautiya, Sarlahi said that he hadn’t received his payment since 2017. Although he got Rs 250,000 from the Mahalakshmi and Annapurna sugar mills after repeated agitations, he has yet to get paid Rs 85,000 from the two mills.

He added that his sugarcane cultivation had been significantly affected due to lack of funds since sugar industries fail to pay.

Harishyam Raya, secretary of the Sugarcane Farmers’ Struggle Committee Sarlahi, said that various sugar mills had yet to pay farmers Rs 295 million since three years.

According to Raya, Indira Sugar Mill has yet to pay Rs 30 million, Rs 30 million from Lumbini Mill, Rs 120 million from Annapurna Mill and Mahakali Mill Rs 85 million to farmers.

He added that farmers haven’t received the Rs 30 million from the Shri Ram Sugar Mill even though the amount was handed over to the Chief District Officer.

Sugarcane farmers struggle almost every year to receive payment for their products sold to the sugar mills. There are 10 sugar mills operating in the country, a number of which deliberately delay the payment worth billions of rupees to the farmers.

Sugarcane farmers have been repeatedly agitating against such sugar industries since April 2019. Last year, after weeks-long protest in Kathmandu, an agreement was reached between the farmers and sugar mill owners at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies on January 3, 2020 to pay all the arrears.

However, the total owed amount has net been cleared yet. The government also started listing the sugarcane farmers and open bank accounts to ensure that the sugar mills pay them on time.

As the government’s intervention has been negligible and unproductive, farmers say that the government created such schemes — instead of taking action against faltering mill owners — only to save the face of treacherous mill owners.

“We have made our case to the leaders from various political parties and to the President as well. There have been several agitations not only at the Kathmandu but also in other districts. But to no avail,” said Ram Swartha Raya, chairman of the Sugarcane Farmers’ Struggle Committee, Sarlahi.

He said that he had visited Kathmandu about 15 times to plead the government to help clear their arrears.