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26 Apr 2018

Farmers to get direct sale option

Rajeev Ravidas, TT, Apr 26, 2018, Gangtok: Farmers in Sikkim will now be able to sell their produce directly to the customers from shopping complexes being set up in different towns in order to give a boost to the government's organic mission.

The first such complex, "Kisan Bazar", will be inaugurated in Gangtok on Sunday.

Since April 1, the government had imposed a ban on the sale of non-organic vegetables, barring a few items, which are procured from outside the state.

The restriction on the sale of non-organic vegetables is the second phase of the government's organic mission. In the first phase, the state became cent per cent organic producer.

D. K. Bhandari, the director of the horticulture department, said to begin with, two floors of the multi-storied complex would be given to the farmers to sell their produce. "Later, 85 stalls in the complex will be let out to the farmers. The complex will also house two cold storages and a canteen," he added.

Similar complexes will also be constructed at Namchi in South Sikkim, Geyzing in West Sikkim and Mangan in North Sikkim. "The Kisan Bazar will be open on all seven days of the week. The farmers can sell their vegetables from these complexes at their own prices," said Bhandari.

The horticulture director, however, said once a stall was allotted to a local farmer, he or she would not be allowed to sub-let the places to others. "If anyone is found sub-letting the stall, the allotment will be cancelled. This is being done to ensure that no middlemen get to usurp the stalls," he said.

The government has also provided utility vehicles at different locations to enable farmers to ferry their produce to the nearby markets. "We have provided 24 utility vehicles and three refrigerated vans to ferry vegetables. SIMFED (Sikkim State Co-operative Supply and Marketing Federation Ltd.) also has six vehicles (to ferry vegetables)," said Bhandari.

Pawan Awasthy, the managing director of the government-owned SIMFED, said given the fact that organic vegetables were costlier than the non-organic ones, his cooperative would try to sell vegetables at subsidised rates to customers. "For instance, if we buy tomatoes from farmers at Rs 28 per kg, we will sell them at Rs 20. We will absorb the losses. Even though we are committed to giving subsidy as much as possible, it will not be to the extent of non-organic (rates)," he said.

Non-organic tomatoes procured from outside are being sold at Rs 15 per kilogram. Tomatoes are among the items exempted from the purview of the ban. Other vegetables include potato, garlic, radish and green chilli.

The horticulture director said the government would also provide minimum support prices to farmers and offer them compensation for vegetables that they are unable to sell in order to encourage them to grow more vegetables. "In the second phase of the organic mission, we want to increase production. We are willing to provide farmers every help to increase their productions," he added.

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