It’s not news that the north-eastern state of Sikkim is a leader in sustainable policies. But, the state’s efforts were finally recognised by the United Nations (UN) garnering the award for having the world’s best food policies or what’s called the ‘Oscar for the Best Policy’. The world has its first fully organic state - and it’s in India. In actuality, Sikkim was already fully organic when 2015 rolled in having started its journey to being sustainable back in 2003. According to Maria Helena Semedo, Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Deputy Director, Sikkim’s policies have benefited over 66,000 family farmers. Rather than focusing on food security in isolation, the state’s food policies take socio-economic aspects like tourism, consumption, markets and development into its fold to form a comprehensive and inclusive approach toward agriculture. Sikkim’s organic world Unlike most regions that turn to sustainability and being organic as a solution once their natural capital in jeopardy, Sikkim’s organic policy came into being because of its treacherous terrain that makes normal farming methods obsolete. Going organic was an opportunity utilise land that was currently lying unused. Now Sikkim is home to bio-villages that employ effective microorganisms (EM) technology for compost and bio-pesticides. The agricultural fields use vermiculture hatcheries and compost-cum-urine pits for manure production. Even the seeds they use are organic, rather than the hybrids that are used in other parts of the country. With the ‘Seed Village Scheme’, Sikkim ensures that it has locally adapted high-quality seeds. And, in order to ensure that those seeds yield the maximum output, the state conducts regular soil health assessments. The transformation didn’t happen overnight. And the most important aspect of its success is probably the invention programme that was implemented to raise awareness about organic farming practices among farmers. That being said, it’s easier said than done. When Sikkim started on its journey to becoming an organic state in 2003, chemical lobbyists and opposition parties didn’t make it easy. Chamling asserted that it was through strong political commitment and hard work that Sikkim is where it is now. In fact, Sikkim’s story is a model example of sustainability that is currently being emulated in other northeastern states of the country and Kerala, who recently faced extensively floods as a result of unsustainable development amplified by climate change. Sikkim beat out 51 nominations from 25 countries from all over the world at the event organised by the FAO and the World Future Council (WFC). The state’s Chief Minister, Pawan Kumar Chamling, even stated, “Let us build an organic world together,” when accepting the award.
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