ORGANIC MISSION & SIKKIM AS THE 1ST ORGANIC STATE
Going totally organic was the dream and vision of the Hon’ble Chief Minister,Pawan Chamling, which many scoffed at, for being too daring and ingenuous, in 2003. There was no success story to replicate, no technical machinery to fall back on. It was a self-sustained process because no other state or country had done it successfully before Sikkim. With the short term success of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the farming community had no courage and conviction to accept organic farming as a viable alternative farming practice. A historic declaration was made through a Resolution in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly on February 24, 2003, and then on, Sikkim marched ahead with the uncompromising vision of transforming Sikkim into a ‘Total Organic State’.
The modern system of farming was becoming increasingly unsustainable as evidenced by declining nutrient values, increasing damage to the environment and the spreading of chemical contaminant in our soil. Therefore, the necessity of having an alternative agricultural method which protects and supports the eco-system became exceedingly important.
The Hon’ble Chief Minister has categorically said that his vision of organic farming is holistic; seen not only as a step to protect the Sikkimese people, but also as a mission to protect the animal kingdom, mankind and the entire Creation. In organic farming, agricultural practices are in complete harmony with Nature. The whole purpose is to remain in sync with the eco-system. Organic farming has a positive effect on the ecosystem, as it proves vital in supporting the survival of wildlife in the lowlands. It even provides safe pasture lands for grazing.
There is the need and an urgent necessity to provide balance among all living organisms and in getting rid of harmful chemicals from our environment, and most importantly from our food. Great thinkers from thousands of years ago have already warned us against the dangers of disrupting the eco-system and the environment balance that sustain mankind. Similarly, the Hon’ble Chief Minister believes that organic farming, is the only sustainable way of doing agriculture without interfering with Nature. He has said that back to the root concept is gaining momentum all over the world; hence if we can revive the traditional system of organic agriculture, it will help us maintain the originality of traditional farming and at the same time improve the economic condition of our farmers through competitive pricing.
Over the decades, the State Government has been stressing on the benefits of organic farming to our people through simple narratives that can be understood by them. The following are being continuously advocated:-
- The basic need for the survival of mankind is clean air, clean water and healthy food grains and clean environment. Only organic farming among modern agricultural systems ensures these things to the people;
- If organic farming is adopted by one and all, people will undoubtedly become healthy, wealthy, happy and will enjoy a long life. In Sikkim, life expectancy has increased in the last 20 years.
- Organic farming ensures economic viability and environment sustainability. It also generates a feeling of social responsibility among the people.
- Organic farming is a holistic and nature friendly approach to protect our environment and therefore, it improves the overall existence of human beings and animals.
- Organic farming promotes soil fertility and ensures balance between the environment and human activities.
- Organic farming complements our drive on the promotion of eco- tourism and also conserves and promotes our rich biodiversity.
Actions taken by the State Government
- Carried out a massive awareness campaigns and orientation programmes on organic farming among the cultivators and the farming communities. This helped to reorient their understanding and led towards larger understanding of how crucial the new concept of organic farming was to bring about sustainable development.
- Numerous training and capacity building programmes were organized for government officials, employees, relevant stakeholders and general people.
- The study of organic farming was included as a subject in the school curriculum;
- The Sikkim State Organic Board was constituted on September 16, 2003 for outlining policy issues and strategic plans, as well as developing standards and regulations;
- Stopped procuring chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides from 2004 onwards and also eliminated the existing subsidy to farmers for procurement of chemical pesticides.
- Set up an Organic Conversion Information Service to sensitize the farming community to take up organic farming;
- Formed Organic Market Promotion Units for the development and creation of organic markets;
- Established Centre of Excellence for organic farming;
- Created category-wise organic farming schemes and organic action plans to set the targets of conversion;
- Set up quality laboratories for analyzing farm and processed agricultural products;
- Built technical manpower for organic farming and its related activities like certification and record keeping;
- Ensured effective transfer of technology and information to the farming community with focus on addressing the changed circumstances of the sector;
- Established accreditation and certification agencies;
- Opened Livelihood Schools for organic farming;
- Established a Bio-Fertilizer Production Unit;
- Conducted mandatory Soil Testing;
- Started the production of organic seeds on a commercial scale;
- Provided manure production infrastructure for making rural compost and vermi-culture compost.
Sikkim, by the end of the year 2015, was able to convert more than 76,000 Ha of its cultivated area into organically certified cultivation. To mark this special occasion, the Sikkim Organic festival 2016 was organised in January, 2016.The event was graced by Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi who made a declaration of Sikkim becoming the first completely Organic Farming State in the country. With this unique distinction, Sikkim accounts for more than 12% of the total organic area in the country (76,000 Ha out of 6,20,000 Ha) with just 0.2% of the total geographical area of the country.