Little steps in the right direction can go a long way in bringing about a revolutionary change as was evident in the case of India’s first 100% organic state. Sikkim, the landlocked Himalayan state has braved odds to fulfill the vision of its previous Chief Minister Pawan Chamling who wanted the state to be India’s first organic state.
In 2003, the conventional methods of farming using chemical fertilizers posed a serious threat to both the environment and health of the people of the state. Taking the cue from the situation, which could be a potential danger for people later, then Chief Minister Pawan Chamling announced his vision to make the state an organic state free from use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and GMO crops.
This change was an all encompassing one which also aimed at bringing about a mindset change amongst people as they were the ones who were to take ahead the reins of the movement. The government made stringent laws to enforce that the movement is carried forward without its progress being stalled at any stage. It provided organic seeds and organic manure to the farmers apart from knowledge of how to use them. It provided advanced training to its farmers to carry forward the mission.
In this long drawn out process, Sikkim faced some insurmountable challenges which fell on its knees before their spirit. The state initially cut subsidies on pesticides and gradually banned their use all together. The farmers fought against plant diseases with pesticides made from locally available plant materials which helped them fight against Rhizome rot disease which played havoc for the state’s cash crop ginger. This use of organic pesticides also helped them revive the traditional Mandarin oranges grown in the state which faced a challenge to survive.
During this time Sikkim also witnessed mushrooming of seed processing units, bio- fertilizer production units, soil testing labs, automated green- houses, cold- storages and food processing units too which helped them set an infrastructure in place.
Sikkim is also marketing its organic produce through organic retail stores which it plans to set up in all state after its pilot launch in Delhi where it markets organic pulses, ginger, cardamom, turmeric and few fruits. The demand for the organic food products from Sikkim is on the rise and has helped the farmers also earn an extra 20% to their share.
Sikkim Organic Mission carried forward the baton of change for other states in the country to follow. Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram are working towards becoming organic and bringing about an organic change in the lifestyle of the people. Sikkim has been the front runner in showing the way for organic and sustainable living as the living of future.