By P.D. Rai
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday lauded Sikkim’s effort to become 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 toil 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.
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 addressed a meeting of all agriculture ministers of the Indian states to push home the point of going organic.
Everyone is aware that the Himalayas serves the Indo-Gangetic plains as well as the Assam ecosystem by just sending down water through its 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 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.
The prime minister’s deep dive into sustainability will have the overtones of the global understanding of sustainable development. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (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 stabilising yields, improving resistance to pests and diseases, and battling poverty through reducing debt incurred by the purchase of expensive chemical inputs.”
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.
This is a true partnership at play between the prime minister and the state chief minister.
(P.D. Rai is the sitting Lok Sabha member from Sikkim. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)