Sikkim’s organic charm doubles tourist visits in four years

Gangtok: Sikkim comprises only four districts with a population of six lakh. But the tiny landlocked Himalayan state is in news lately due to organic farming. Sikkim became India’s first fully-organic state in 2016.

Till 2014, six lakh tourists visited Sikkim every year. But after the state was declared to be organic, the number of tourist-visits grew rapidly. In 2014-15, a total of 6.5 lakh tourists visited Sikkim, while 8.6 lakh visited in 2016 and a whopping 14 lakh in 2017.

1,100 delegations visited state

Khorlo Bhutia, secretary of agriculture, horticulture and cash crop development department, says, “This miracle is due to the organic tag. In four years, the number of tourists has more than doubled. This year we are expecting 20 lakh tourists.” He further said, “In nearly two years, about 1100 delegations from all the states as well as from neighbouring countries including Nepal, Bhutan have come to see what is going on here.”

Gangtok’s multi-storied farmers’ market

With a complete ban on chemical fertilisers and pesticides in the state, the capital Gangtok will soon have a multi-storey farmers’ market where farmers can directly sell organic vegetables to consumers. Indian Farmers Fertilisers Cooperative (IFFCO) along with the Sikkim government is investing Rs 50 crore on a processing unit for organic crops.

Crops from other states are not organic

Still, pulses, rice, wheat, gram, corn, potato, tomatoes, onion and chili are imported from outside the state, which means that one cannot guarantee that they are organic. With no control over the market, imported vegetables are also being passed as organic. Since vegetables like cauliflowers and carrots are produced here, there is a restriction on bringing them from outside the state. Hotelier BB Shukla says that farmers have benefited but prices are out of control.

(Story by Vijay Manohar Tiwari)

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