Sticky situation for sugar cane growers in Bago Region

Sugar cane growers in Bago Region. Photo: Myitmakha News Agency
Sugar cane growers in Bago Region. Photo: Myitmakha News Agency

SUGAR cane growers in the Pauk Kaung township of western Bago Region are finding themselves in a spot of bother after a fall in the price of the cane as well as a decline in the daily output of sugar from the Inngarkhwa sugar refinery, according to local growers.
The sugar cane being harvested in this year’s crop is being bought at the previous year’s allocated price of 30,000 kyats per one ton. However, local farmers say there have been many losses because of an increase in price of expenses such as labour, pesticide and fertilizer.
“In the past, the sugar refinery used to give [us farmers] fertilizer, instructing us to plough our land and plant sugar cane. Now though, lots of people are growing sugar to the point whereby the sugar refinery can’t buy it back from us anymore. We asked them to pay us more for our sugar because we can’t meet expenses, but they didn’t. They are controlling the price.” explained local sugar grower Ko Soe Than.
Signatures were collected and sent to the relevant departments twice during 2015-2016 requesting the price of sugar cane to be increased, and while it was increased by 2,000 kyats, it still falls short of the price requested by farmers.
“Western Bago Region boasts two sugar refineries. Sugar cane growers were given a price of 30,000 kyats per ton of sugar cane. But because of demand for an increase, those with authority increased the price by 2,000 kyats. The Oktwin sugar refinery in the eastern part of the Region is now paying 32,000 kyats per ton.” said U Ohn Myint, director of the Inngarkhwa sugar refinery.
The Inngarkhwa sugar refinery used to be able to process 2,000 tonnes of sugar a day, but
machinery malfunctions have caused fluctuations in the daily amount of sugar that can be refined, resulting in trucks transporting the sugar cane habitually having to queue up for days at a time outside the refinery.
This causes a reduction in the final weight of the sugar produced from the sugar cane, as it dries out in the heat whilst waiting to be refined and because other foreign objects, such as litter, get mixed in, which has meant that sugar cane growers receive less for their crops than estimated, resulting in financial losses.—Myitmakha News Agency

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