Devinder Sharma writes: “This is fabulous news. Perhaps the best we heard in recent times. The tiny, land-locked Himalayan State of Sikkim has become fully organic. All credit goes to Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling for making that possible”. He continues: “It took almost 12 years to realize that dream.
“When Pawan Kumar Chamling made a declaration in the State assembly way back in 2003 to go completely organic, I doubt if many experts and policy makers would have taken that seriously. But it was his firm resolve and commitment that gradually converted 75,000 hectares of cultivable farm land into certified organic. (Read more here).
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to formally announce this at a glittering ceremony followed by a sustainable agriculture conference at Gangtok on Monday, Jan 18.
“I am told the Prime Minister intends to announce a series of steps to promote organic agriculture in the country . . . This is a welcome initiative and needs to be extended to the entire Himalayan range.
“The Himalayas have a unique ecosystem. In such a salubrious environment, where people come to enjoy the beauty of nature, it is a rude shock to see farmers spraying chemical pesticides on standing crops. Travelling into the lower hills of Uttarakhand sometimes back I was aghast to find farmers spraying a heavy dose of chemicals on the tomato crop. I was told that more than a dozen pesticides sprays are conducted routinely on the tomato crop. In Himachal Pradesh, the scene is no different. Apple cultivation for instance is perhaps the worst when it comes to pesticides use and abuse. Besides contaminating the food chain, pesticides do get into the soil, the environment, and get washed down into streams.
“But over the years, the emergence of lifestyle diseases has slowly but steadily turned people towards organic foods. Incidentally, the growth in organic foods in India is amongst the highest in the world, almost exceeding 22% . . .
“If you think this is not possible, you need to rethink. In Andhra Pradesh, which has faced the brunt of intensive chemical farming practices over the years, the State Government has decided to train 1.5 lakh farmers in organic farming. Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has already announced that the entire farming population will be trained in organic farming practices in the next three years. This is not a small target. The approach Andhra Pradesh has adopted is to train the best among the organic farmers as trainers. These trainers are then fanning out into different parts to teach the other farmers . . . 36 lakh acres in Andhra Pradesh (half of this area is now in the newly created Telengana) got converted to non-pesticides farming . . .
It has now been found that with the withdrawal of chemical pesticides, the insect attack has greatly reduced, the environment has become much clean as a result of which the health costs for the farming families has also fallen by about 40%. In essence, while the household food security has improved, farm incomes too have gone up.
“If non-pesticides management can be adopted by farmers in 36 lakh acres, I see no reason why such practices cannot be adopted by farmers in ten times more area — 360 lakh acres. All it needs is proper training, skill development, and of course adequate backing from the State Governments”.
Sharma ends by asserting that what has been attained in Andhra Pradesh and the hilly State of Sikkim (above) is a model for the rest of the Himalayan States where biodiversity is under threat. Elsewhere it is reported that other states in the region are considering following the same path. He stresses the importance of preserving and conserving what has survived the onslaught and hopes that Sikkim will emerge as “a trendsetter, a harbinger of sustainable agriculture, which is the only plausible way to achieve climate resilience”.
Read the whole article by Devinder Sharma in Ground Reality at http://devinder-sharma.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/sikkim-becomes-organic-model-for-other.html