Farmers protest regulated rates for veggies, Horticulture Dept rolls back decision Deptt insists rol

Gangtok, 05 Jul:

“The Department officially withdraws the regulated rates of organic vegetable in the state, which was recently implemented by the department,” said Secretary, Department of Horticulture, Government of Sikkim, Khorlo Bhutia on Thursday evening during a press conference held in Gangtok.

Earlier in the afternoon, a group of around 90 persons claiming to be farmers from South Sikkim had staged a protest at Lall Bazaar in the Capital against the regulated rates. According to this group, the regulated rates which were recently announced by the state government did not do justice to the hard work they put in and they demanded that rates be left to the market supply and demand forces to determine.

The group also tore down the banner carrying the regulated rates put up in front of Lall Bazaar.

The Agriculture and Horticulture department had issued a notice last week stating that no vendors are allowed to sell their produce at prices above the prescribed rates.

However, the Horticulture Department insists that the rollback of regulated rates is not due to the protest but has been done taking into consideration the feedback taken from all stakeholders.

The press conference had the presence of Horticulture Director, DK Bhandari, MD-SIMFED, Pawan Awasthy and Executive Director, Sikkim Organic Mission, Dr. S Anbalagan and other Officers.

The Secretary informed that the department has decided to withdraw the decision after getting feedback from all concerned, authorities, farmers' representatives, villagers and others.

“Now the market is open and the rates will be fixed as per the demand and supply principle, and now the SIMFED is not obliged or forced to buy products from the farmers which we were doing in the past,” said the Managing Director SIMFED, Pawan Awasthy.

"The department is in favour of farmers and will look into their problems. The department decided to regulate the rates of vegetables since middlemen were manipulating the rates," said the Secretary.

"SIMFED will now buy products only if it is profitable and the farmers are free to sell their produce at their own price," said the MD.