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May 7, 2010

Indian State of Sikkim Announces Plan to Be All-Organic by 2015

The Economic Times of India reported on 7 May 2010 that the state of Sikkim has announced that it plans for all its agriculture to be organic by 2015. 

The state estimates that there are 70,000 hectares of agricultural land.  Of this total, 6,000 hectares have been converted to organic agriculture.

Beginning in 2003, the state government started implementing policies favoring sustainable agriculture that reduced the use of chemical pesticide, insecticide or chemical inputs. 

Specifically, the government has implemented a policy to phase out chemical fertlizers as it views them as having "an adverse impact ... on our soil, water and on human health."  In 2003, state government subsidies were withdrawn on chemical fertilizers. From 2006-07, subsidies were withdrawn from those transporting, handling, and retailing fertilizers.  

According to the state government, its definition of "organic" includes "ecologically-sound modern technology with traditional agricultural practices including crop rotation, green manure and biological pest control to ensure reduction or total elimination of chemical inputs."  One of the problems with this approach is that the state must address the lack of organic manure resources. It is currently making these up through imports from Hyderabad and Pune.  Crops now being grown under these organic conditions include maize, paddy, ginger, cardamom and turmeric.

Due to the climatic and soil condition in the upper Himalayas, Sikkim is food deficient and relays on food imports.  Only 11% of the land is currently until cultivation.  The state government wants to see this number increase through intensive cultivation and organic practices. 

The state government is hoping that its new organic policy will encourage tourism and make the state known as an ecological hotspot. 

For more see: Nandi, Jayashree. "Sikkim makes an organic shift," Economic Times (of India), 7 May 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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