By P.D. Rai*
January has been full of negative news starting with terrorist attack on an Indian air base at Pathankot. For a nation hungry for good news Sikkim – a a border state with just over 600,000 people – has provided one. Sikkim has been declared a fully “Organic State” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. No mean achievement this.
How many states can say this for any public policy carried out in mission mode? This milestone could not have been achieved but for the complete cooperation and coordination of all sections of society.
Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling is a proud man. Having crafted a shared vision of a “Fully Organic Sikkim” he has managed to provide the political leadership to ensure its timely implementation. Despite loud opposition and noise of many of our farmers, he gradually won over people from all walks of life to back the mission. The tipping point came when the world started discussing the positive impacts of organic farming for clean food security, for soil health and for overall health in general. It works well for combating climate change too.
Today we have to be grateful for the work put in by many. The Ridge Park Floriculture Show is a tremendous piece of art. Many visitors have commented that they have never seen such a floriculture spectacle. I am sure we can fill several coffee table books with the photographs of the flowers exhibited. No participant has spared any effort to make the Sikkim Organic Festival 2016 a grand success. The extent and quantum of orchids on display tells us how deeply energized and involved are many of our floriculturists. I must mention Mrs. Tikamaya Chamling and her family for the amount of effort put in not just presently but over the decades to imbibe a spirit of learning and scientific temper in growing orchids in particular. There are others like Mohan Pradhan, the quintessential ‘Orchid Man’ from Sikkim. Sanjog Raya, an architect, has helped in the three dimensional conceptualization of the Ridge Park super show.
The display in Saramsa Garden is another grand scale. Here the farmers from different parts of Sikkim display their produce, mainly vegetables, a fantastic array of organic farming output. There is an educative exhibition of what goes into the soil that is important. A full display of how soil health and nutrition for the plants. The Department of Agriculture and Horticulture worked tirelessly to present a commendable grand finale to the mission.
There is also a glimpse of value added product exhibits which gives a peek of the potential of value addition. Many young entrepreneurs are needed to take full advantage of Sikkim’s big-bang “Organic State” status.
Now the question is what next?
We need to take a deeper dive into many of the issues presented to us by the mountain specificities. Small and scattered land holdings, irrigation issues and market access were some of the issues flagged. Mountains present other sets of issues which inflate the cost of production. How do we overcome this without subsidy is a very important question?
We cannot lose the momentum and so we have to go back to the drawing board to find high quality innovative solutions to many of these and other questions that will inevitably arise.
We have crafted many great things together. Peace and harmony in a critical border area of India is just one of them. I am sure this has played a vital role in Sikkim’s march to attain “Organic State” status. That is the how we as a society can move forward together. That is also a great sign of progress and a progressive society.
*P.D. Rai is the lone MP from Sikkim in the Indian Parliament. He can be contacted at [email protected]