Saturday, January 16, 2016

The real significance of the Sikkim’s Organic Farming State Success

By PD Rai
Come Monday 18th January 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will officially declare Sikkim as an Organic State. Any which way you look at it Sikkim has assumed leadership in Organic Agriculture. The rest of the country will have to follow suit.
Years of toiling and leadership has made this happen. The people of Sikkim, the farmers, agriculturists, bureaucrats and politicians have all played their part in this great Sikkimese narrative. All have to be congratulated.
One must commend Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, for taking a look at the great potential of this venture. He has found it to be a significant public policy move that can transform the Agriculture Policy within the rest of India. Little wonder then that he has skilfully combined the launch with a meeting of all Agriculture Ministers of the Indian States to romp home this point. How are we to achieve food security but without the costly inputs of fertilizer plants created from imported oil and Naphtha.
Therefore, the significance of his Sikkim visit as well as taking Sikkim’s example as one to be emulated is not to be lost out as a moment of optics. There is real substance here and is definitely a well thought out plan.
Everyone is aware that the Himalaya gives the Indo Gangetic Plains as well as Assam eco-system services by just sending down water from the myriad rivers. It also extends much needed replenishment of fertile top soil carved out from the mountains. Climate Change may actually disrupt this entire process. The rivers are going to be seasonal as more and more warming will lead to drying up of the important glaciers and permafrost. Loss of biodiversity all across the Himalaya will prove very costly for the nation.
The entire Himalayan Ecosystem is under threat from the externality of Climate Change and global warming. We have signs of that even as our farmers are reporting that oranges are better off in higher altitudes than before. And so many such like empirical evidences that are discussed in different settings. In order to combat and delay the problems of Ecosystem services from the Himalayas the remedy will be to start with organic farming. Let the entire Himalayan belt get into farming the way it was done traditionally but with much more scientific inputs and understanding.
This will change the way we all think of farming and getting our food. Food security will once more move into the hands of farmers rather than remain in the clutches of politicians and bureaucrats.
Prime Minister will be addressing the Agriculture Ministers. His deep dive into sustainability will have the overtones of the global understanding of sustainable development. IFOAM writes on Sustainable Development Goal #2, “Organic Agriculture supports and enhances ecologically sound systems of food production that can achieve food security by increasing and stabilizing yields, improving resistance to pests and diseases, and battling poverty through reducing debt incurred by the purchase of expensive chemical inputs.”
This is global thought leadership. But who is practising it? Sikkim, a small Himalayan State of India decided to do it and show the way.
This is the kind of significant leadership that is being provided by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Sikkim, Pawan Chamling. How significant is this can be fathomed by the keen interest that Sikkim’s Organic journey is being viewed all over the world.
Prime Minister Modi sees great public policy value in this. He also sees that it can be scaled up to all the other States of India. This perhaps is a fine example of Cooperative Federalism. But greater still is that the significance of Organic Agriculture is the path changing public policy initiative in Agriculture which can be compared to the Green Revolution of the Nehruvian era. The next phase of food security will be built on Sikkim’s success and Sikkim’s mantra of Clean Food, Clean Water and Clean Air. Don’t pay more for cleaning the environment. Nature’s way is the best.
Hats off to both Chamlingji and Modiji. That is true #OrganicPartnership at play.
Politically, Chamling has again shown his State craft and stands to gain in stature across all of India and the world.

(The author is the sitting MP Lok Sabha, Sikkim and the opinion shared is personal)