Fruit and vegetable traders protesting

India: State of Sikkim to be first fully organic state

Prices are rising, vegetables are being seized and dumped, and traders are planning to move the High Court as Sikkim goes ahead with the second phase of its plan to become the first fully organic state in the country by banning the entry and sale of 26-odd non-organic horticultural and agricultural products.

The notification on banning the products came on March 10. On March 31, the government said it had set up a mechanism to check markets and seize non-organic products, as well as a committee to check price rises. On April 3, some 10 tons of vegetables were seized from Lal Bazar Market in Gangtok by officials, put in trucks and dumped at a landfill near Rangpo, East Sikkim.

However, accusations have followed of the government being ill-prepared, especially with prices seeing a spike and triggering public anger. For instance, organic cauliflower is being sold for Rs 100-120 per kg (€1.23-1.48), against Rs 15 (€0.18) for the non-organic variety at the nearby Siliguri market; the respective rates for cabbage are Rs 30 (€0.37) and Rs 5-10 (€0.06-0.12) per kg.

While the banned list initially included 26 agricultural and horticultural products, the market crisis has since forced the government to take carrot, green chillies, onions and tomatoes off the list.

As described on indianexpress.com, the move is part of the ‘Organic Mission’ envisioned by Sikkim in 2003. The implementation started in 2010, and in 2016, the Central government declared Sikkim the country’s ‘first organic state’. The same year, Sikkim was also declared as the country’s cleanest state.

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