04 Nov, Gangtok (IPR) : A conference ‘The Organic Movement: The Way Forward’ was held at Chintan Bhawan today amidst presence of distinguished visiting delegates from leading global Organic bodies. The conference was graced by Chief Minister Mr Pawan Chamling as the chief guest.
Mr Markus Arbenz, Director, IFOAM, Germany, made a brief presentation on the world wide organic development trend. He also highlighted the Organic 3.0 and also laid thrust on the role of organic agriculture in addressing global challenges. He commended the organic initiatives of Sikkim and particularly praised the vision of Chief Minister Mr Chamling in spearheading the organic movement.
Mr Joseph Wilhelm, Donor, One World Award, and Founder Director Rapunzel, Germany, spoke about the vision of the One World Award and also highlighted international trading and marketing opportunity and trends.
Ms Gila Kriegisch, Senior Manager, Marketing, Rapunzel, gave a brief highlighted on the activities carried out by the Hand in Hand Project of Rapunzel.
Ms Martha Jean Shamiso Mungwashu, One World Award 2017 winner from Zimbabwe shared her experiences from the field visits carried out by the team on 2nd and 3rd of November. She shared that she was particularly impressed with the way people have dedicated themselves to organic agriculture and take pride in it.
Mr Ashwin Paranjpe, Faculty, United World College, Pune, made a presentation on Community Supported Agriculture and shared how the model is being successfully implemented by his team back in Pune especially through building relationship among producers and consumers.
Mr Bernward Geier, Chairman and General Coordinator of One World Award and Director COLABORA, Germany shared a short video on OWA 2017 and spoke on the contribution of the winners in Organic movements.
Chief Minister Mr Pawan Chamling in his address stated that the visit of the distinguished delegates to Sikkim is a coming together of individuals and institutions passionate about the cause for an organic world and a matter of great pride to share the work that Sikkim has carried out in the field of organic agriculture. He stated that the policy decisions on environmental protection taken by the Government since 1995 have shown the desired result with Sikkim becoming the only fully organic state in the country. “A large number of green initiatives were taken up and taking the decision to convert Sikkim into an organic state was a natural progression of our environment friendly development agenda,” he stated.
The Chief Minister further that the efforts of the Government of Sikkim have created a ripple effect across the Indian States and the idea of organic farming has received full emphasis in India, never known in the past. “The Hon’ble Prime Minister has been pleased to mention Sikkim numerous times as a role model in organic farming across the nation, while calling upon all other states to take up organic farming, especially the Himalayan states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the seven North Eastern States,” he added.
Mr Chamling further stated that Sikkim is pleased to host the distinguished global organic leaders who are united in the common concern and commitment to take the organic movement further and wider. “He added that it is crucial for governments in different parts of the world to commit and play a leadership role in creating a safer and healthier world through the organic movement. Especially at this critical juncture, governments have to step in and take responsibility. In the face of a serious threat posed by our consumerist world and chemical laden production systems, our reaction has been very feeble and insufficient. It is urgent to adopt a kinder form of agriculture and governments play a critical role to enable this,” he maintained.
Further, he stated that to safeguard the earth and to save humanity from the looming catastrophe, we must adopt environmental-friendly and sustainable lifestyles to protect and safeguard the environment.
In his concluding note, he stated that the State is now entering into the second phase of organic movement to carry out large scale production of organic produce and to create value-addition to our products, establish a global supply chain and strengthen export mechanisms in the State. He urged the distinguished guests to lend their expertise and valuable advice to strengthen the organic movement in the state of Sikkim and across the nation.
(Please find attached full text of address of Hon’ble Chief Minister during the Conference).
The programme was also addressed by State Agriculture Minister Mr Somnath Poudyal.
Earlier, Commissioner cum Secretary Agriculture Mr Punit Kansal delivered the welcome address while Secretary Horticulture Mr Khorlo Bhutia made a presentation on Sikkim’s Journey in Organic Agriculture.
Later in the day, a workshop on ‘Opportunities and Challenges in Organic Commodities Marketing’ was held which was participated by stakeholders in organic agriculture. Apart from the visiting delegates, the workshop was facilitated by experts and officers from concerned departments
‘Organic Farming: the way forward’
Conference at Chintan Bhawan
November 4, 2017
Mr Bernward Geier, Chairman and General Coordinator of One World Award and Director COLABORA, Germany, Mr Markus Arbenz, Executive Director, IFOAM, Germany, Mr. Joseph Wilhelm, Donor OWA & Founder Director Rapunzel, Legau, Germany, Ms. Gila Kriegisch, Sr. Manager, Marketing, Rapunzel, Ms. Martha Jean Shamiso Mungwashu, OWA winner, Zimbabwe, Ms. Dao Droste, Mr. Sebastiaan Huisma, Biodynamic farmer, Netherland, Mr. Ashwin Paranjpe and Ms. Ann Joythis of Faculty United World College in Pune.
It is a great honour to welcome you all to our Himalayan and 100% organic state of Sikkim. The OWA family extended their warm welcome to our team in Germany in September and it is a wonderful honour to have you here in our state. As you know, Sikkim is the first completely organic state of India and IFOAM and the One World Award graciously recognized our work. This is again a coming together of individuals and institutions passionate about the cause for an organic world and it is a matter of great pride to share with you the work that we have done in the state.
Environment protection and promotion of health have been the bedrock of our development policies in Sikkim. Beginning in 1995, we introduced and implemented a large number of policy decisions to revive nature and adopt sustainable development models. A large number of green initiatives were taken up and taking the decision to convert Sikkim into an organic state was a natural progression of our environment friendly development agenda.
Traditionally, the farming communities in Sikkim were practicing holistic, organic and non-violent farming systems for centuries. However, just as in other parts of the world, in the latter part of 1970s, chemical fertilizers were introduced and widely used in our farmlands. The adverse impact of the chemical fertilizers was immediately visible as the fertility of land decreased and with it came its adverse effect on health and well-being of the people and of the environment. Seeing this, we formally declared the decision to become organic in 2003.
There are certain established scientific findings related to industrial agriculture which are very often taken for granted and not viewed in seriousness that they deserve. For instance:
1. It takes over 1000 years to form an inch of top soil but takes a very short time for pesticides, insecticides and chemical fertilizers to destroy through exposure. Because of this, in the past 40 years, 30% of the world’s arable land has become unproductive;
2. Once the cycle of soil rejuvenation is interrupted, environmental dis-balance occurs leading to all kinds of natural disasters;
3. The use of chemical fertilizers may show increased yield initially but it causes a total disaster in the environment in the long run;
4. Agriculture farming practices using chemical fertilizer, pesticides and insecticides is responsible for 50 % of CO2 emissions leading to global warming. If organic farming is adopted globally, major issues of CO2 emissions will be addressed.
5. The main cause of disease is consumption of chemically treated food;
6. It is estimated that by the year 2050, the present world population is slated to double from the present 7.5 billion to over 15 billion. This means that the present food grain production must double to feed the additional population. It would also be required to ensure clean air availability and water in equal measure. Organic agriculture is the only way to provide food security and health;
7. So, the only answer is adopting environment-friendly and chemical-free methods of farming and production. There needs to be a complete and urgent paradigm shift in our thinking about production and consumption;
8. Unfortunately, as prevalent in India and also as a world-wide practice, agriculture is largely done using pesticides, insecticides and chemical fertilizers. We, in Sikkim, decided to abandon use of pesticides and insecticides and stopped utilizing subsidized fertilizer provided by the Central Government in India since 2003. This was a critical decision that we took and we feel proud that today, our Country and the world has acknowledged and certified this as the correct way forward – for promoting organic agriculture everywhere as the need of the hour. We have made a step in the right direction.
Having said that, we have realized that no other state or country in the world is fully organic. At this backdrop, Sikkim has created a new milestone. Our efforts have created a ripple effect across the Indian States and the idea of organic farming has received full emphasis in India, never known in the past. The Hon’ble Prime Minister has been pleased to mention Sikkim numerous times as a role model in organic farming across the nation, while calling upon all other states to take up organic farming, especially the Himalayan states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the seven North Eastern States.
I am happy that the global organic leaders are present with us today as we are united in our common concern and our commitment to take this organic movement further and wider. Although we are dedicated in our movement, we all know that only a small percentage of total land in each nation is organic. It was a realization that Sikkim is a peculiar case where the State Government has led the organic movement whereas in other states of countries, it is the agriculturists and the organic activists who are the force behind the organic movement.
However, if we are to create an organic world, it is crucial that the respective governments in other parts of the world commit and play a leadership role in creating a safer and healthier world through the organic movement. Especially at this critical juncture, governments have to step in and take responsibility. In the face of a serious threat posed by our consumerist world and chemical laden production systems, our reaction has been very feeble and insufficient. It is urgent to adopt a kinder form of agriculture and governments play a critical role to enable this.
The earth has become a dumping ground of chemicals, plastics and electronics waste. To safeguard our earth, to save humanity from the looming catastrophe, we must adopt environmental-friendly and sustainable lifestyles and do all that is in our power to protect nature. That is the only way.
Our distinguished guests will appreciate that we are doing everything possible to sustain our organic revolution and pass on the initiatives to the next generation of farming community. Taking inspiration from global solutions, adopting innovative and homegrown knowledge and building local capacity, we have been taking planned steps to further sustain and strengthen the organic movement in Sikkim.
Our farming communities are fully convinced about this movement and they have taken up leadership in moving the organic revolution forward. Our next step is to encourage the educated youth of Sikkim to engage deeply in this organic culture and also take into confidence political leaders from across different political organizations to join us for this noble mission. We all know that organic agriculture is a life saving profession and every youth in the world must be made aware of its importance for the world of the future.
We are now entering into the second phase of organic movement here in Sikkim to carry out large scale production of organic produce and to create value-addition to our products, establish a global supply chain and strengthen export mechanisms in the State. This, indeed, is a very difficult task and we are working hard to set these processes in place. Distinguished guests from across the world, you come with immense expertise and decades of experience and some of your countries are far ahead in the organic movement. We need your advice to strengthen our organic movement in the state and across the nation.
I understand that a Workshop is being organized in the afternoon here between the visiting guests and the regional stakeholders to deliberate on long-term, effective marketing mechanisms. I am confident that the Workshop will be fruitful in addressing the issues we are facing in this next phase of the organic movement in Sikkim and that it will further promote collaboration and learning.
On behalf of my Cabinet Colleagues, the Chief Secretary, officials, and representatives of farming organizations, we wish the visiting guests from across the globe a very pleasant stay in Sikkim and we look forward to our continued interaction in the future. Our journey has just begun and it is a wonderful honour to have your presence in Sikkim and we thank you for your commitment to the organic movement in Sikkim and beyond!
Thank you once again and my best wishes to all of you!