Former Sikkim CM Pawan Kumar Chamling addressing the 14th session of the conference of the parties of the UNCCD in New Delhi Credit: SDF

Gangtok: Addressing the 14th session of the conference of parties of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in New Delhi, former Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling said that ‘organic Sikkim’ was one of the biggest contributions of the former Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) government to the Himalayan state.

The conference was organised by the UNCCD, the World Future Council (WFC) and IFOAM-Organics International, a press release informed.

Apart from Chamling, the event was attended by top officials of the United Nations, Bhutan’s agriculture & forestry minister Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor and IFOAM-Organics International world board member Bablu Ganguly. They underlined the significance of 100% organic agriculture goals that are critical to achieve land degradation neutrality.

Former Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling

The event pointed out how agro-ecology and organic agriculture in India and the Himalayas enhances fertile landscapes, protects biodiversity and improves living conditions of the local people. Sikkim was featured for its unique policies which enabled the establishment of the first 100% organic state in the world, which received the UN-backed Future Policy Gold Award in 2018.

Also Read: Here’s what SKM achieved in 100 days of governance in Sikkim

Calling it one of the biggest contributions of the SDF government to Sikkim, Chamling in his speech mentioned that going 100% organic was full of challenges and criticism, but Sikkim gave a valuable example to the world that going completely organic is possible. “It is critical to have strong political will and leadership that will stand strong for the interest of the mission, despite hurdles and criticism that will definitely come your way,” he said.

Chamling elaborated on the green policies of the SDF government in 25 years starting from the declaration of the Green Revolution Year in 1994 and the Green Revolution Decade (2000-2010) to initiatives such as the banning of use of plastic, the set-up of the Glacier and Climate Change Commission, 10 minutes to Earth and Sikkim Eco-Tourism Policy, to name a few.

If we continue to use chemical fertilisers for another 100 years, it will be devastating for the top soil and eliminate the generative nature of our land, Chamling said. He maintained that organic farming is the only solution to protect Mother Nature from global warming. He urged that all stakeholders, political leaders, policy makers and activists should unite and work to achieve the goal of an organic world, the release mentioned.

“The transition to sustainable food and agriculture systems is critical for a sustainable future. Both Sikkim and Bhutan show with their 100% organic goals that such a transition is possible. UNCCD is proud to showcase, along with the World Future Council and IFOAM – Organics International, their leadership and political will towards achieving land degradation neutrality. We can learn many lessons from their exemplary actions on policy making,” says Ibrahim Thiaw, executive secretary, UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

“By scaling up organic agriculture and agro-ecology, it is possible to tackle malnutrition, social injustice, climate change, and loss of biodiversity. Through effective, holistic policy-making, we can transform our food systems so that they respect people and the planet. Sikkim proves that it is feasible – and how. Sikkim, Bhutan and other Himalayan States are part of a growing movement pursuing organic farming and agro-ecology as an effective pathway for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and delivery on the entire 2030 Agenda. They show that achieving land degradation neutrality is no longer a pipe dream but can become reality,” said Alexandra Wandel, executive director of the World Future Council.

“The Indian state of Sikkim was chosen for the Future Policy Gold Award 2018, because it is the first state in the world to become fully organic. It set an ambitious vision and achieved it, reaching far beyond organic farming production and proving to be truly transformational for the state and its citizens. Sikkim sets an excellent example of how other Indian states and countries worldwide can successfully upscale agro-ecology,” said Louise Luttikholt, executive director, IFOAM–Organics International.

Ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) countered the former chief minister on Saturday claiming, “Under our government, we have known how the Organic Mission of the former government was a complete failure, the same has been nothing beyond fooling the poor farmers and the world at large with promises of Sikkim being 100% Organic. We have the adequate data to challenge the claim but putting the same in the public platform would be shameful for the state. So, under the SKM government we will try to correct the Organic Mission in a proper manner, such that it does not become shame for the state in the future,” it said.

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