In a visit to the mountainous, northeaster hill state, Narendra Modhi heralded Sikkim’s agricultural system, which has seen 75,000 hectares of land converted into certified organic farms under India’s National Programme for Organic Production.
Under the programme’s rules, the state has outlawed the use of synthetic fertilisers and chemical pesticides and every farm is now certified organic.
"Sikkim has already achieved that feat of living in harmony with nature, and is therefore a model of development which also protects nature,” said Modi.
In 2003, Chief Minister Pawan Chamling began a crusade to transform Sikkim’s approach to agriculture by banning the sale of non-organic agriculture products. Still at the helm, Chamling has overseen the process and was present for Modi’s announcement.
Over the last decade, the state has also improved the quality of its soil to produce the majority of India’s 1.24m tonnes of annual organic production. Its most important crops include cardamom, ginger, turmeric, off-season vegetables, mandarin, kiwi, buckwheat, paddy maize and millet.
Already, a burgeoning agri-tourism industry has been established, with organic resorts now selling their produce to visiting travellers.
With its population of just 600,000, Sikkim now joins the likes of California and Wisconsin in America as fully organic states, and is likely to be followed by Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and fellow hill state Mizoram, which have also been eyeing the title.