Sikkim to go all- organic in farming

BOUNDED by foreign nations on three sides, Sikkim — a land- locked Indian state located in the eastern Himalayas, is poised to emerge as India’s first organic state in January 2016. The official announcement will be made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“ We have already sent the communication to the Prime Minister’s Office ( PMO) requesting him to make the formal announcement early next year.

We are at the fag- end of our mission.

All the certification work will be completed by this December,” Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling told MAIL TODAY in an exclusive interview.

Chamling said that in regards to organic farming, people used to think that the practice only means not using chemical fertilisers and insecticides.

But the most important part of the movement was to develop an alternative path for over 64,000 cultivators across the state, following 100 per cent organic practices.

“ It was a tough task to develop organic manure and to involve people into it. We had started in 2003 and over the next five years, it took a lot for us to influence and convince our cultivators.

But finally we have achieved our goal,” the CM said.

E ARLIER, PM Modi had praised the organic mission of Sikkim both at home and abroad. During his official tour to Germany, he had spoken highly of Sikkim’s revolutionary strides towards organic farming.

The process for bringing the total cultivatable land of 74,303 hectares under organic farming commenced at ground levels from 2010. Agencies

accredited by Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority ( APEDA) are certifying the organic process in Sikkim in three phases. The state government had made a historic declaration in the assembly in 2003 to transform Sikkim into a totally organic state. This was the first such policy initiative in India and Sikkim became the first state to enact it, sources said.

The decision of the state government to go organic was based on the promise that farming in this tiny hilly state was traditionally organic before its merger to the Indian Union in 1975.

It was given a formal approach with the launch of the Sikkim Organic Mission on August 15, 2010, with a state- level workshop organised to create a roadmap towards this monumental task. The project was given a deadline of December 2015.

According to sources, the process of conversion was taken up in phases. In the first two phases, about 35 per cent of the total agricultural land in Sikkim were brought under the programme and certified as organic. “ Sikkim has a glorious history of agriculture that has been practiced for generations where people and nature lived in perfect harmony… Therefore an urgent need was felt for a greener technology to achieve desired productivity in sync with environmental sustainability systems.

Organic agriculture was considered to be an important option for the small and marginal farmers of the state,” said Khorlo Bhutia, principal secretary of Sikkim agricultural department.

He said that the organic produce of Sikkim, mostly vegetables, would not only fetch more value for the farmers but also offer multiple benefits to the state. The organic status is also set to supplement the eco- tourism of Sikkim. There are six APEDA- accredited certification agencies engaged for certification work. They conduct physical inspection of farms, interview farmers and audit the farm documents as prescribed in National Programme on Organic Production ( NPOP).

The official announcement will be made by PM Modi in January 2016