'Wholly organic' Sikkim bags UN award


New Delhi: The '100 per cent organic state' Sikkim, the first in the world, will get the 'Oscar for best policies' at a UN ceremony in Rome and it bolsters efforts to attain the Sustainable Development Goals, an Indian MP said on Sunday.

Sikkim beat out 51 other nominees from 25 countries for the Future Policy Award 2018, the world's best laws and policies promoting agro-ecology, which will be presented during the World Food Week at headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Monday.

Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling and Sikkim Democratic Front MP Prem Das Rai are in Rome to attend the award-giving ceremony, besides Indian Ambassador Reenat Sandhu.

"We are pleased to know that a Himalayan state of India has been awarded this year's Future Policies Award in agro-ecology," Rai told IANS in an email reply.

"The leadership under Chief Minister Pawan Chamling has to be lauded. Farsighted and with huge political will has been the underpinning of this policy. It's even more important to understand that the magnitude of the policy in both its simplicity and wide-ranging implications for human development and climate change mitigation.

"It bolsters efforts to attain the Sustainable Development Goals. Hence Sikkim and India need to be proud of this great moment," an elated Rai added.

This year's award is co-organised by the FAO, the World Future Council (WFC) and IFOAM - Organics International.

Brazil, Denmark and Quito shared the silver award.

Gold prize winner Sikkim is the first organic state in the world, says the WFC.

All of its farmland is certified organic. At the same time, Sikkim's approach reaches beyond organic production and has proven truly transformational for the state and its citizens.

Embedded in its design are socioeconomic aspects such as consumption and market expansion, cultural aspects as well as health, education, rural development and sustainable tourism. The policy implemented a phase out of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and achieved a total ban on sale and use of chemical pesticides in the state.

The transition has benefited more than 66,000 farming families, the WFC says in a statement.

The Sikkim tourism sector has benefited greatly from the state's transition to 100 per cent organic: the number of tourists increased by over 50 per cent between 2014 and 2017. As such, Sikkim sets an excellent example of how other Indian states and countries worldwide can successfully upscale agro-ecology.

The Sikkim Chief Minister and Vandana Shiva, together with the women of Himalaya, have jointly announced a commitment for a Himalaya entirely organic and bio-diverse, aimed at spreading the model that Sikkim has built over 15 years, which has shown how a 100 per cent organic agricultural model, based on the principles of agro-ecology and local circular economy, is not only possible but also advantageous.

The agro-ecological model is able to give life to a virtuous cycle among farmers, environment, territory and community as well as the basis of joint commitment aimed at the global transition towards poison-free agriculture food and farming by 2050, says non-governmental organisation Navdanya, which has a primary membership of more than 6,50,000 farmer families in 17 Indian states.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 19, 2016 declared Sikkim as the first organic state in the country, saying it will soon become the harbinger of organic farming not only in India but around the world.

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