Towards Organic Sikkim
Towards Organic Sikkim – Initial Years
Cultivation practices in the himalayan state of Sikkim was largely traditional. With the advent of green revolution in the country, there was increased use of chemical ferilizers and pesticides to increase food prodcution in the state. Despite massive programme on encouraging chemical fertilizers and pesticides, per capita use of these chemicals was negligible.
Considering all these aspects, the Government took a wise decision to adopt organic system of farming in the entire state. Such a step was taken for a healthy and wealthy life in a sustainable way, keeping due care of ecology and environment as the prime concern of the state.
Advantages of Organic Agriculture for Sikkim
In 2003, the Government of Sikkim conceptualized the idea of making the State as an organic one. The decision of Government to go organic was based on facts that farming in this hilly state was traditionally organic and it will benefit not only the 62,000 farming families of the state who own an average of 1.9 ha of farm land but will also maintain the quality of environment. The State Government saw comparative advantages in promoting organic farming as the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides was still minimal at the farmers’ level. Therefore, it was relatively easy for farmers to shift to organic farming or to improve their already known organic ways of farming. Average fertilizer use on one lakh ha of farmland that Sikkim has on record, was never more than 12 kg/ha, as compared to national average of 90 kg/ha.
Sikkim has some advantages of continuing traditional farming, the farmers have certain knowledge and skills for organic farming. Sikkim also possesses variety of agroclimatic conditions, unique commodities indigenous to their farming and an emerging new class of educated farmers wanting to make agriculture a professionally-viable vocation. For Sikkim, this offers hope of improving soil health of largely marginal hill farmland, reducing the cost of inputs and developing cash crops and agro-enterprises with an aim to offer opportunities of employment.
The State has enourmous opportunities to develop niche based organic agribusiness enterprises providing self-employment to educated youth and improving states’ economy. Owing to unique agroclimatic conditions and farming practices, there are huge opportunities for high-value produces such as cardamom, ginger, orange, tea, kiwi fruit, passion fruit and many types of mountain vegetables and food-grains. The cultivation of these crops organically has more potential for national and international markets. There exists tremendous opportunities of developing the SIKKIM BRAND OF ORGANIC COMMODITIES where farmers of Sikkim can avail the benefit of increasing market at international level (International market for organic products is growing at the rate of 30% and World organic food sales jumped from US$23 billion in 2002 to over US$ 62 billion in 2010).