By Prarthana Mitra
Earlier this week, the Indian state of Sikkim made headlines for becoming the first 100% organic state in the world, among 51 nominated policies from 25 countries. Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling received the Green Oscar for “best policies,” an award that acknowledges the local government’s efforts to transform the agroecological and sustainable food systems.
“Let us build an organic world together,” Chamling said in his acceptance speech.
“An organic world is definitely achievable. I also appeal to the world community that we do not carry out any kind of development work and business at the cost of the environment,” he added.
What sets Sikkim apart
The award is co-sponsored by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Future Council (WFC) and International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) – Organics International. While policies from Denmark, Brazil and Ecuador bagged the silver, Sikkim’s inclusive and holistic approach to organic farming secured the Future Policy Gold Award.
The landlocked state with a population of 7 lakhs managed to set an outstanding example for the rest of the world, said Deputy Director of FAO, Maria Helena Semedo.
The jury noted that alongside visible positive impact on the environment, farmers of the state benefited from rural development, market expansion, healthier consumption pattern, and sustainable tourism as well. “Sikkim’s approach reaches beyond organic production and has proven truly transformational for the state and its citizens,” they noted in their official statement.
How Sikkim managed the unimaginable
Sikkim was the first Indian state to announce the adoption of organic farming in 2003. What began as a measure to conserve soil fertility, preserve ecological balance, promote healthy living and reduce ailments, soon became a way of life and has reportedly benefited 66,000 farming families. The agricultural sector phased out and ultimately stopped importing and using chemical fertilisers and pesticides, switching to organic manure instead.
Once the ban was achieved, Sikkim accomplished what no other state ever had. The transition to organic life is also supposed to have doubled the influx of tourists in the last four years. The socio-economic impact of the sustainable step is now evident in all aspects of life in the Alpine state, including health, education, food and development.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.