Sikkim against the machine

Sikkim, Feb 22: Squatting on the kitchen floor at her home in Sikkim’s Assam Lingzey village, 90-year-old Benu Maya Upreti does not quite understand what the recent fuss over organic farming is all about. The heat from a simmering oven is keeping her warm; sunlight streams in through the kitchen door, which opens out to the family’s farm, pure and unblemished.

In the seven decades that she helped her husband, Tula Ram, cultivate the land and ruled over the family kitchen, chemical fertilizers and pesticides were not allowed on their 100-acre land, and by extension, the food they eat. The Upreti family has been self-sufficient, needing only to buy salt, kerosene, sugar and spices from the market. Their 15 children have grown up healthy, and when Upreti was diagnosed two decades back as diabetic, she brought it under control within a few years and stopped the medication.

Standing close to a crop of peas, Tula Ram proudly announces that he has done even better. “I have never even needed an Aspirin,” says the nonagenarian.