How Sikkim Became The First 100% Organic State In The World

Organic farming has become the most 'in' thing to do lately. Organic farming, is nothing but traditional farming, the kind done by our great-great grandfathers, before the introduction of fertilizers and insecticides. The introduction of chemicals in farming at the time seemed to be the next step forward and for a time being yields exploded and the soil did seem healthy. Any damage brought about by chemical fertilizers was hardly noticeable. But soon pests developed resistance to the chemicals and to make matters difficult this method came with a host of problems including health related diseases like cancer, pollution, degradation of soil and water, and impact on domestic animals. So slowly and steadily the countries are going back to traditional way farming, otherwise known as Organic farming.

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Organic Farming involves the use of biological materials, avoiding synthetic substances to maintain soil fertility and ecological balance thereby minimizing pollution, wastage and cost-effective as there is no use of synthetic based fertilizers and pesticides. Also, in this form of farming no genetically modified organisms are permitted. Who does this better than Sikkim, this ecologically conscious state is not only cleanest state in India but since January 2016, it has also become India’s first “100 per cent organic” state, which means all farming in Sikkim is carried out without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, providing safer food choices and cutting down on land and water pollution to a great extent.

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Recently, Sikkim even received the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) Future Policy Gold Award for becoming world's first fully organic state. Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling - while receiving the award from FAO's Deputy Director Maria Helena Semedo- said, "Let us build an organic world together." He further added, "An organic world is definitely achievable. I also appeal to the world community that we do not carry out any kid of development work and business at the cost of the environment."

Sikkim had to beat 51 nominees from around 25 countries to bag the “Oscar for best policies.” While giving away the award the director Maria Helena said, "Sikkim is an outstanding example on how to successfully transform the food system and ensure respect for people and planet."

A film was also shown at the ceremony that highlighted Sikkim's transformation through research, marketing and education of farmers. Brazil, Denmark and Quito in Ecuador shared the Silver award that was presented by president of the Navdanya International and environmental activist, Vandana Shiva.  

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Here are the points that you would want to know, how Sikkim became a fully organic state.

1. Consumption of Fertilizers was comparatively less.

 Sikkim decided to turn organic in 2003. As per the study per hectare consumption of fertilizers in Sikkim was already among the lowest in the country. Moreover cardamom, one of Sikkim’s main cash crops required almost nil fertilizers. So the government saw huge potential to protect its ecosystem without much changes. In spite of the uproar by the opposition and chemical factories the government still managed to pass the new law in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly.

2. It was a gradual process

The state began reducing the subsidy on chemical pesticides and fertilizers by 10 per cent every year and banned them completely in 2014. Their sale and use was made punishable by law with an imprisonment of up to three months or a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh or both.  

3. Training and Education of Farmers

With banning the government continuously provided training to farmers in composting methods and non-pesticide management of pests. These training sessions have been conducted by several agencies like SOM, the state’s horticulture department, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, the Agriculture Technology Management Agency and the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR).

4. Benefited Locals

According to the local media reports transition into hundred percent organic state has benefited more than 66,000 farming families, by helping them bring down the cost of farming and also the state’s tourism, which has since then grown by 50 per cent between 2014 and 2017.

5. Hiccups

Every change comes along with its fair share of hiccups. Even Sikkim had to face some major issues like it had to deal with major shortage of vegetables and fruits in the state. Not only that in spite of having bio fertilizers and bio-insecticides, the distribution channel failed in distributing it among the farmers.

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Not only Sikkim but nine other states in India including Karnataka, Mizoram, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat have an organic farming policy or law. But it’s only Sikkim who has seriously acted upon it. Kerala, too taking a cue from this himalayan state has announced its intention to become 100 per cent organic.

 As Maria Helena Semeda said that it’s all about the state's leadership and political will. We hope many more states come forward to walk on the path, laid by Sikkim.

Picture Source: India Times; YourStory.com; inuth.com; laughingcolours.com; 

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