India: experience of one year Organic Sikkim
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In a recent article in the Huffington Post an Indian journalist focused on Sikkim and the development of its agriculture. Sikkim, declared the cleanest state in India, has the distinction, after a conversion process lasting 13 years, of being 100% organic. Farmers have benefited from healthy production conditions and agricultural practices that do not deplete the soil. However, they could enjoy greater benefits from organic farming if adequate infrastructure, essential for well functioning farming, was in place.
The state still suffers from a lack of facilities like cold storage and easy access to markets. Without railway connections, transporting goods to market is a big challenge for farmers selling fresh produce. However, measures are being taken to remedy the absence of storage, processing plants to create added value and transport to the rest of India .
Higher income by big demand for organic produce
The way people think about growing crops has also changed – maintaining a healthy environment and soil fertility are uppermost in the minds of the farmers. Moreover, many farmers are earning more because of the big demand for their organic produce. Positive development has also encouraged some farmers to invest in growing different crops. Farmers now have new opportunities and incentives.
The farmers of Sikkim are proud of not resorting to chemical fertilisers and pesticides and using only organic fertilisers, that has been the common practice in their traditional agriculture. Anyone who was tempted to use chemical inputs soon gave up, especially when the government decreed that the state was to become totally organic and banned chemicals.
Sikkim has approximately 76,000 hectares of agricultural land and roughly 66,000 certified organic farmers. With this relatively small land area, farmers tend to produce high-value, low-volume crops, examples being ginger, cardamom, buckwheat and turmeric.
So, although there is a long way to go, engaging with and then adopting organic agriculture across the whole federal state has brought benefits to its people, the economy and the environment.
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