Out of the total fertile land in the country, sugarcane is being cultivated on around 81,000 hectares of land. Though Nepal is in the 33rd position among the countries producing sugarcane in the world, sugarcane farming is not prospering in this situation also.
According to the Nepal Agricultural Research Council, National Sugarcane Crop Research Programme, Jitpur, a total of 4.3 million metric tonnes of sugarcane was produced in Nepal in fiscal year 2074/75 BS. More than 1.315 million households were directly involved in sugarcane farming in 2074/75 and thousands of laborers got employment, stated the details of the Sugarcane Crop Research Programme. Thousands of people and families have got employment directly due to the sugar industry and the marketing of sugar.
Bio-fertilizer could be produced from press mud, paper, cardboard from sugarcane bark, electricity from the heat used while boiling sugarcane juice based on 'byproducts' generated from sugarcane industry if sugarcane farming is developed and additional thousands of people could get employment and many jobs could be created in the country from this. Technicians and experts of the program said that ethanol could be produced from molasses and it could be mixed with petroleum products as per the scientific criteria. An environment could be created to save foreign currency by reducing the import of petroleum products to some extent. As per the details, the area used for cultivating sugarcane has increased by three folds and productivity by more than eight folds since 1986 to 2017, but remarkable improvement in its area and production has not been found. Sugarcane farmers are yet to achieve notable progress through its commercial business.
The sugar mills are not paying the appropriate cost to farmers as produced sugarcane is not found good for sugar products. According to experts, the farmers are failing to get notable success in sugarcane farming as they were failing to adopt new technology and cultivate the best sugarcane plants. Though the sugarcane research office is established in Jitpur, Bara, farmers are not found alert and interested to reach the office for a consultation, said research officer Ram Krishna Rajak. The research coordinator, Tufail Akhtar shared that they were conducting research activates despite the budget and researcher crunch.
A sugarcane farmer, Ram Narayan Yadav of Kalaiya, said they were not getting training on sugarcane cultivation methods and best practices for good products. They were still not getting payment from the sugar mills for the sugar they supplied to them. Similarly, Eastern Sugar Mill officer Suresh Mehata opines that the state should invest in sugarcane farming as they were not getting the required supply of sugarcane in all seasons.
- Suresh Jha