The north-eastern hilly state, Sikkim is the first Indian state to have enacted organic mission in 2003. By banning chemical inputs, the State has adopted a seven-year plan to wipe out their use and to gradually replace them with organic sources of plant nutrient.
At present, 26,391 hectare farm land has attained organic status in the State while approximately 37,000 hectare area are under conversion. The State has drawn a policy to make its agriculture fully organic by 2015.
According to Somnath Poudyal, Agriculture Minister of Sikkim, limited availability of organic inputs like bio-fertilisers, bio-pesticides, organic seeds and planting materials are the key challenges being faced by the organic farming community.
Echoing the same concern, Phetook Tshering Bhutia, secretary at Department of Agriculture, Sikkim, says, “Lack of availability of organic seeds, lack of value addition lack of research support, lack of market linkage, lack of awareness among the farmers are the major roadblocks in front of organic farming.”
From 2004-05, Sikkim has been promoting and supporting in setting up pits for farm organic manure production like rural compost, vermicompost, EM compost, bio-dynamic compost and other organic inputs. The government is working on traditional knowledge about pest control treatments as well. It has already set up a bio-fertiliser unit at Majitar in East Sikkim with an installed capacity of 150 tonnes per year, and has the plan to increase capacity in the future. It has set up two seed testing and processing units between 2007 and 2008.
Read more on the status of Organic Farming in India: www.ruralmarketing.in/industry/agriculture/organic-farming-future-of-indian-agriculture
To provide market linkage to organic foods, Sikkim State Co-operative Supply and Marketing Federation and Denzong operate organic outlets across Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim. The cooperative has employed 25 youth trained at National Institute of Agricultural Marketing, Jaipur, to run the stores.
“We must assure our farming community that their produce will be fully marketed at a fair and legitimate price, and premium price must be offered to farmers for organic products that differentiate their products from chemical-based ones,” the minster further says.
In order to boost the market linkage to the organic products, the state has plans for public procurement of organic products, consumer education and awareness, domestic market development strategies, developing farmers marketing organisations, market information system and promoting export activities.