The Indian state of Sikkim is probably best known for its mountainous beauty and as being home to the red panda. Now, the state has come up with a hugely-commendable goal to convert all its farms to certified organic agriculture by 2015. A recent report from the state reveals that nearly one-third of the farms in the state have been reviewed and found to be organic. Sikkim now has 18,500 hectares of organic farms.
A report says that the state has been slowing use of chemical fertilizer since 2003 and has currently converted 6,000 of its 70,000 hectares of farm land.
Initially, the chemical phase-out was done because of the effects on soil, water and human health, but the state also hopes going organic will boost its tourist economy.
From a policy angle, the phase-out began with the ending of a government subsidy on chemical fertilizers to entirely end it use.
The organic certification is a three-year process. Three agencies accredited to APEDA issued C-1 certificates to 12,456 registered farmers who own 18,453 hectares in four districts of the state.
The land gets the C-1 tag in the first year, followed by a C-2 in the second, and C-3 in the following year, which denotes that any crop produced on a particular plot, is organic.
Other than environmental concerns, a major reason of the all-organic move stems from the fact that certified organic produce is fetching a 30% premium compared to non-organic produce and eco-tourism homestays.
The farms are certified annually with inspections twice a year to ensure that the organic practices are continued even after the initial inspection period.
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