The Himalayan state of Sikkim is now the first fully organic state of India. The news could not be more timely as India tentatively takes steps towards eco-friendly practices. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the focus will be on sustainable development, organic farming and ecotourism. If you’re planning a visit to Sikkim, you can now pluck your own veggies!
So how did Sikkim achieve this feat and what were the challenges? Over the past 12 years, around 75000 hectares of land has been converted into certified organic farms following the guidelines prescribed by the National Programme for Organic Production. The local farmers were never too heavily reliant on chemicals but synthetic fertilisers were used. Its ban compelled the farmers to go organic and they now use natural alternatives such as green manure and compost.
Of the 1.24 million tonnes of organic produce in India, around 80000 million is supplied by Sikkim.
So goodbye chemical pesticides and fertilisers! Sustainable farming will go a long way in reducing the impact that pollution has on the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayan state. This move would also help in the growth of economy and create employment opportunities for the local youth.
Some of the major crops produced in Sikkim are cardamom, ginger, turmeric, flowers, Sikkim mandarin, kiwi, buck wheat, paddy maize and millets.
The certification process costs resources and money. This exercise will have to be regimented so that farmers and traders can benefit from the certification.
A stability in prices is key and so is the marketing initiative.
Finally, a drop in yields could be a challenge that needs to be addresses as organic farms produce 10 to 15 per cent less than traditional farms.
Other states to follow:
Kerala, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh lead the pack in the switch to organic.