By Dhyan Kulung
Sankhuwasabha, Jan. 20: Until last year, the farmers in Chainpur Municipality, Sankhuwasabha, had to depend on oxen to crush sugarcane planted there.
In order to boil around 150 liters of jaggery, the oxen had to be rotated on traditional machine called ‘Pecha’ for more than three hours.
But this year, the problem of having to spend hours is over after the municipality provided sugarcane crushing machine to the farmers on cost sharing basis, reducing the time from three hours to one hour.
Three sugarcane crushing machines worth Rs. 450,000 each were provided to the farmers with 70 per cent subsidy. The farmers now seem happy. Motimaya Shrestha, a farmer, said that it used to take a whole day to make jaggery from a lot of sugarcane, but only five hours now.
According to Shrestha, those without cattle before faced a lot of problems in cultivating sugarcane. "In the village, only a few farmers own oxen, so the farmers without one hardly got a chance to rent them even at a high price,” said Shrestha.
But now, we have been making enough jaggery from a lot of sugarcane by spending only Rs. 200 on petrol in operating the machine.
The farmers, however, said that there was a problem in selling the cooked jiggery and that if that was solved, they would be able to avail the full benefits.
They also said that electric kiln would be a better alternative because finding enough firewood to cook sugarcane juice had been a problem for them.
The farmers said that it normally took about 5 hours to prepare jaggery by cooking a cane of juice on fire. “Compounding the problem is the lack of proper road to supply the jiggery to the market.”
They have also demanded that the municipality build sales centre as the price of sugarcane was in decline, but that of sugar was on the rise. At present, the price of one kg of sugar ranges from Rs. 100 to Rs. 130.
Mayor Bharat Khatri said that they were working for the welfare of the farmers by declaring Raut village and surrounding areas of Chainpur Municipality ‘a sugarcane pocket area’.
Khatri added that they had been bringing programmes for sugarcane processing since last fiscal year and would give continuity to it.
“Plans will be outlined in the days ahead to give priority to clean and quality products and make them easily available in the market by packaging.”
According to him, more than 100 families are involved in sugarcane farming in the municipality and a single family has been earning up to Rs. 1.5 million annually.