Sikkim has won the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Future Policy Gold Award for its achievement in becoming the world’s first totally organic agriculture state.
Sikkim became the first fully organic state of India in 2016. Over the years around 75000 hectares of land in the state has been converted into certified organic farms following the guidelines as prescribed by the National Programme for Organic Production.
Within 1.24 million tonnes of organic production in the country around 80000 million is supplied by Sikkim alone.
Organic farming and its significance:
Organic cultivation doesn’t involve the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and thus helps to maintain a harmonious balance among the various complex ecosystems. Also, it improves the quality of the soil which further improves the standards of the crops produced there. In the long term, organic farming leads in the subsistence of agriculture, biodiversity conservation, and environmental protection. It will also help in building the soil health resulting in sustainable increased crop production.
The first step towards making Sikkim an organic state was to recognize the natural factors that made it an ideal location for organic farming. These included its topography, the local use of traditional farming systems, the diversity of its climatic conditions and the fact the local soil is rich in organic carbon.
Then, in 2003, the ‘Going for Organic Farming in Sikkim’ programme was prepared, along with the Sikkim State Organic Board, which prioritized the creation of new infrastructures and the mobilizing of resources. From here, a seven-year plan was introduced to ban chemical fertilizers – gradually replacing them with organic plant nutrients.
The initiatives that propelled Sikkim’s progress:
In 2004, the production of organic manure began, replacing other compost.
Between 2004 and 2006, two seed testing and processing units were introduced, as well as soil testing laboratories for studying soil health.
The Centre of Excellence for Organic Farming was created.
Starting in 2008, several organic certification programmes took place, with much of the land being certified by organizations such as the Department of Science and Technology and the Food Security and Agriculture Department.
In 2010, a biofertilizer production unit was put together, and the National Level Workshop was introduced in Sikkim’s villages.
Later that year, a plan for the adoption of fully organic farming was put into place, known as the Sikkim Organic Mission.
Maintaining the state for the future- To ensure Sikkim stays green in the long term, there are a few additional initiatives that have been introduced to the state:
Firstly, animals are no longer allowed to graze in the reserve forest in order to conserve natural resources. There are still plenty of other spaces for animals to graze while protecting this land.
Plastic bags have been banned, encouraging shoppers to take their own bags to the store to cut down on plastic manufacturing and waste.
The State Green Mission was launched, which includes planting fruit-bearing trees, plantation drives and more.
The prizes, nicknamed the “Oscar for best policies”, honor exceptional policies adopted by political leaders who have decided to act, no longer accepting widespread hunger, poverty or environmental degradation.
Previously it was honored for policies combating desertification, violence against women and girls, nuclear weapons and pollution of the oceans.