Sikkim was declared as the ‘first organic state in the country’ in 2016. The state was also awarded the ‘cleanest state in India’ by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) in September, 2016. It was the recipient of India Safaigiri Award for being the ‘cleanest hill station in India’ in 2015 and was declared as the ‘best region to visit’ in 2014 by the Lonely Planet. Sikkim has also been ranked 17th out of 52 places to visit in 2017 by The New York Times.
This Indian state has a spectacular diversity of natural habitats and wildlife within a relatively small geographic area of around 7,096 square kilometres. From breath-taking river valleys and verdant forests to blooming alpine meadows and ice barren glaciers and cold deserts – the state has it all.
Sikkim Organic Mission is a flagship project of the Government of Sikkim. The project was originally conceptualised by Pawan Chamling, Chief Minister, Sikkim, in 2003. This mission gained countrywide popularity through the television talk show ‘Satyamev Jayate’, which was hosted by actor Aamir Khan in 2012.
The Organic Mission of Sikkim remains a talking point even today because the consumption of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides in agricultural products is very low in Sikkim as compared to other Indian states and is far below the national average. Sikkim voluntarily adopted to go organic under the guidance of Pawan Chamling through a declaration in the legislative assembly. Subsequently, the market circulation of chemical inputs for farmland was restricted and sale of such items was banned. The farmers were left with no option and had to go organic. The process for bringing the total cultivatable land of 58,168 hectares under organic farming commenced from 2010. Organic produce of Sikkim, mostly vegetables, would not only fetch more value but also offered multiple environmental and economic benefits to the state.
Impact of Sikkim Organic Mission on tourism
The organic status is going to supplement the ecotourism sector of the state. Tourism stakeholders of Sikkim are convinced that Organic Mission when connected to the ecotourism sector would be a double attraction for tourists, particularly for those interested in home stays. Visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of Sikkim and also gain health benefits by consuming organic products.
Ecotourism with biodiversity
Eco/village tourism in Sikkim combines the features of nature, culture, adventure and pilgrimage to offer a complete package to the tourists visiting the state. Village tourism has been the thrust area for development of the state government as it ensures overall development in respect to tourism through providing an opportunity to the common masses to act as major service providers without affecting their day to day activities. Moreover, the villages all over the state are now connected with a good network of roads and have the basic minimum requirements to cater to the tourists. This has greatly enhanced the prospect for village tourism in Sikkim. Resultantly, there has been an increasing level of awareness among rural communities for initiating village tourism projects in the state. The zeal to make a difference in tourism with meaningful support rendered by the government has led to the coming up of large number of village tourism destinations in the state. The state won the ‘best rural tourism destination’ award given by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India in 2014.
Sikkim is one of the 26 bio-diversity hotspots in the eastern Himalayas. It is a veritable treasure house of some of the world’s most beautiful streams, lakes, and waterfalls. The fact that Sikkim has gone completely organic is a positive step towards protecting the natural wealth of the state.