India's-first-organic-statePrime Minister Narendra Modi has recently declared Sikkim as India’s first organic state. While handing over the organic certificate to Chief Minister Pawan Chamling in Gangtok, Narendra Modi said that Sikkim would soon lead the path to organic farming in different states of the country. Sikkim has set an example for other states to follow suit. This is an indication for others to realise that nature needs care and protection. The landlocked state in the eastern part of India, with a population of six lakhs only, has proved that it’s not the size that matters. It started its organic initiatives way back in 2003, the results of which are being seen now. It has become the country’s first organic state. Narendra Modi also said that more emphasis will be given to sustainable development, organic farming and ecotourism of the state.

Organic farming in Sikkim since 2003

Sikkim is a very small state in East India, the economy of which is dependent on agriculture and tourism. Among all the states in India, Sikkim had the third-smallest GDP in 2014.  But in spite of being an economically poor state, with no commercial flight or connectivity till date, the seeds of organic farming were sowed long time back. Around 12 years ago, in 2003, Pawan Chamling, the Chief Minister of the state, declared in the legislative assembly to make Sikkim an organic state.

Factors that led to organic farming in Sikkim

  • Totally hill topography nestled in the Himalayas.
  • Farming in the state is rain-fed farming.
  • Traditional farming systems are still in vogue.
  • Farming is the main occupation of the people but most farmers are small and marginal.
  • The state banned the use of expensive chemical fertilisers. So the farmers were bound to use natural manure.
  • Sikkim’s soil is rich in organic carbon.
  • Due to diversity of agro-climatic conditions, the state is rich in bio-diversity as well. 

Initial Steps

  • The programme “Going for Organic Farming in Sikkim” was prepared in May 2003.
  • Capacity building programmes were conducted for all officers and field functionaries.
  • Sikkim State Organic Board was set up in September 2003.
  • A seven-year plan was adopted to ban the use of chemical fertilizers.
  • Chemical fertilisers were replaced by organic plant nutrients gradually.
  • Massive awareness programmes in villages were conducted for panchayats, farmers, farmers’ families and self-help groups.
  • The state emphasised on creating proper infrastructures and mobilising resources.

 Gradual process: Government Initiatives

  • In 2004-05, the state government started promoting the production of organic manure such as rural compost, vermi-compost etc.
  • Two units of seed testing and processing units were established in the following 2 years.
  • A Centre of Excellence for Organic Farming was also formed.
  • In the four districts of the state, soil-testing laboratories were established for a proper study of soil health.
  • In Government farms, vermi compost hatchery units were established.
  • From 2008 onwards, Organic certification programmes were initiated through Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Food Security & Agriculture Development Department (FSADD), HCCDD, in which many farmers and large hectares of land were covered.
  • A bio-fertilizer production unit was established along with a Ginger processing unit in 2010-11.
  • National Level Workshop was organised in 2010 in the various villages of Sikkim. The theme of the workshop was “Vision for Holistic and Sustainable Organic Farming in Sikkim– The Future Thrust.”
  • Road map for adoption of organic farming was prepared and Sikkim Organic Mission was launched in 2010.

To maintain the plans and policies, the state government also took up other measures such as:

  • Grazing of animals in the reserve forest was banned. This was to conserve natural resources.
  • The government banned the use of plastic bags.
  • It also launched State Green Mission.

 The result

Over the years, around 75000 hectares of land has been converted into certified organic farms. All guidelines are followed as prescribed by the National Programme for Organic Production. Some of the major crops produced in Sikkim are off-season vegetables, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, Sikkim mandarin, paddy, maize, millets, kiwi, buck wheat and also flowers. It has been reported that of the total organic production of 1.24 million tonnes in the country, Sikkim alone is the supplier of around 80000 million tonnes. This is indeed a big achievement.

Sikkim can now proudly declare itself as a fully organic state and lure tourists from all across the country and the world to relish the fresh organic vegetables in the heart of Himalayas.

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