Only local consumers can make Sikkim’s organic revolution succeed

With 66,000 farmers livelihoods at stake, concern is growing over the Indian states organic farming experiment, with locals reluctant to pay higher prices.

It is mid-morning, and Amrit Pradhan is repositioning the tomatoes on his market stall in Gangtok, capital of the Himalayan state of Sikkim in north-east India. People always want the biggest, reddest fruit, he says. I try to tell them, the flavour is in the smaller ones, but they dont want to know.

Pradhan is one of 66,000 farmers from Sikkim who are part of a far-reaching experiment. Since last year, the states farmers have become 100% organic their produce is free of chemical pesticides or genetic modification. It also means their fruit and vegetables are smaller, less colourful, and more expensive than the imported, non-organic produce from the city of Siliguri in the neighbouring state of West Bengal.