New Delhi, Feb 22: Mt. Khangchendzonga, the world’s third-highest peak at a height of 8,586m, towers above the city of Gangtok, the capital of the northeastern Indian state of Sikkim, which until 41 years ago was an independent kingdom.
On Jan. 18, during his first visit to Gangtok as Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi declared Sikkim the country’s first fully organic farming state. Surrounded by China, Bhutan and Nepal, as well as by India to the south, Sikkim is a landlocked state located in rugged mountainous terrain that makes it impossible for local farmers to undertake large-scale farming. They have also traditionally used little or no chemical fertilizers. But it took more than a decade for Sikkim’s farmers to achieve fully “organic” status. According to agricultural adviser Karma Peden Kaleon, the state government declared it because the state believes that local farmers could earn more money by exporting organic flowers and vegetables.