The All-Sikkim Traders’ Association (ASTA), along with the Lal Bazaar Traders Association (LBTA), on Wednesday, marched in a rally to Krishi Bhawan here, demanding adequate supply of vegetables not only at Lal Bazaar in Gangtok, but across the state.

Traders say that all the markets are running short of vegetables after the state government imposed a ban on the import of inorganic vegetables with effect from 1 April.

It may be noted here that the state government had in March issued a notification, banning import of various vegetables and fruits from outside the state, as part of Sikkim’s plan to go fully organic.

ASTA Vice-President Lakpa Sherpa said that since the imposition of the ban on the import of a listed set of vegetables and fruits in the state by the government, vegetable wholesalers and vendors in Lal Bazaar and other baazars across the state have stopped importing vegetables.

“The final stock was sold on Wednesday morning and the shops are now empty,” he said. “We support the cause of the state government and we have taken the responsibility to implement the same in letter and spirit, but we demand that the agencies authorised for marketing of the locally grown organic produce ferry the produce to the sellers at the best rates,” Mr Sherpa said.

“The state government has just imposed the ban, but it has not come up with a proper plan to make organic vegetables available for sale in the markets,” he further claimed.

He further accused the Sikkim State Cooperative Supply and Marketing Federation Ltd (SIMFED), which is responsible for distributing organic vegetable across the state, of selling inorganic vegetables.

A meeting was held later among the ASTA, SIMFED and the Horticulture Department, where SIMFED representatives assured that it will make optimum efforts to supply the vegetables from tomorrow.

“It is an initial stage, so problems will arise, but after getting the support of the vendors and the general masses, we are sure of solving the issue soon. It is not possible for the department alone to solve the problem. We seek cooperation from the association and vendors,” said an official of the Horticulture department.