Gangtok: When the world is laying stress on chemical-free foods, India’s northeast region has shown the way to organic farming. Sikkim has become the country’s first organic state, and is shining as a flag bearer in the race to adopt environment-friendly measures.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently announced Sikkim as the “first Organic State of India”.
The demand for Sikkim’s organic produce has soared, and farmers in the state are already earning more than what they used to earn earlier.
In 2003, the Sikkim Government decided to shun chemical pesticides and fertilisers and return to natural methods of farming.
Farmers are happy, youngsters are becoming entrepreneurs, tourists are flocking and business is flourishing in from all over the country to Sikkim.
“Initially, it was very difficult for us, as there was not much output from our farms, but gradually things started improving. The government supported us financially and our farms yield improved. Soil is very fertile and producing good vegetables. Farmers are getting loans easily and the agricultural department is providing all type of counselling,” said Karma Doma Bhuttya, a farmer.
Giving a special emphasis on organic farming, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced two important schemes in the Union Budget 2016-17: first, the Parmparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana that will bring Rs. 5 lakh acres under the organic farming over three years.
Second, the government has launched a value chain based organic farming scheme called the Organic Value Chain Development in North East Region.
The emphasis is on value addition so that organic produce grown in these parts find domestic and export markets.
A total provision of Rs 412 crore has been made for these schemes.
Organic produce has a huge demand, which can fetch good revenue to the farmers.
As a part of the government’s plan to push organic farming, ‘Sikkim Organic Market’ was started as a dedicated area to promote sale and purchase of organic food.
“We have set-up many stalls on roads so that farmers can sell their output here and are not demoralised. They (farmers) also call us if they do not wish to sell, we take from them and give them the receipt and sell them in the organic market. More and more young generation is associating with the farming sector,” said Dechen Bhutty, a panchayat member.
Organic farming aims to produce food while establishing an ecological balance to prevent soil fertility. Its impact on natural resources is crucial for both agricultural production and nature conservation.