India has broken ground by creating the world’s first, fully organic, state. Not only does the country house the most organic farmers in the world, the state of Sikkim is now, officially the first state in the world where every farmer is growing organic. This is, of course, since the “organic” label has been created.
66,000 farmers on 75,000 hectares of land have completely rebuffed the use of pesticides, GMOs and chemical fertilizers throughout Sikkim.
“Going fully organic was a massive milestone,” Food Radio Project’s Amrita Gupta reports. “But now Sikkim has to learn how to market that produce, and as they do, the rest of India is learning right along with them.”
The state is still modernizing, in terms of roadways and transportation. There are few main roads to transport the goods internationally and refrigeration is still being developed, so, for the most part, the produce is eaten locally.
Over the last 13 years, Sikkim has gradually removed subsidies for chemical fertilizers and pesticides, while purchasing organic certification for its farmers.
Because the state has been paying for the certifications, the farmers are saving 33,000 rupees each (or approximately $495). This cost of certification has, historically, been the biggest challenge for the farmers to overcome.
It is still unclear how long the Indian government plans to pay for the subsidies, but if the program continues to gain popularity it could spread throughout the country.
“Beyond infrastructure, marketing, and retail, farmers are in need of a more intangible form of support. Empowering farmers to feel proud they’re making the switch is so important,” Gupta reports. “Somewhere along the way, in the celebration of organic farming practices, we’ve lost sight of the farmers themselves and the difficulties they face.”
Now, the country is going out of its way to help lead the world toward fresh, clean, organic produce.