Fully-or­ganic Sikkim wins Un-backed award

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE - —Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion

Rome: In­dia’s first fully-or­ganic state won top prize in a Un-backed award on Fri­day, with or­gan­is­ers say­ing its poli­cies had helped more than 66,000 farm­ers, boosted tourism and set an ex­am­ple to other coun­tries.

Sikkim was de­clared fully or­ganic in 2016 af­ter phas­ing out chem­i­cal fer­tilis­ers and pes­ti­cides and sub­sti­tut­ing them with sus­tain­able al­ter­na­tives.

Sikkim’s ex­pe­ri­ence shows that “100 per cent or­ganic is no longer a pipe dream but a re­al­ity,” said Maria-he­lena Semedo, Deputy Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion (FAO), which co-or­gan­ises the Fu­ture Pol­icy Awards.

The awards have pre­vi­ously hon­oured poli­cies com­bat­ing de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion, vi­o­lence against women and girls, nu­clear weapons and pol­lu­tion of the oceans.

This year’s was for agroe­col­ogy, which in­cludes shun­ning chem­i­cals, us­ing crop residues as com­post, plant­ing trees on farms and ro­tat­ing crops to im­prove the soil and pro­tect against pests.

Pro­po­nents say agroe­col­ogy could in­crease farm­ers’ earn­ings and make farms more re­silient to cli­mate change as er­ratic rain­fall and ex­tended dry pe­ri­ods ham­per food pro­duc­tion.

Tourism num­bers in Sikkim rose by 50 per­cent be­tween 2014 and 2017, ac­cord­ing to the World Fu­ture Coun­cil, an­other co-or­gan­iser.

“Sikkim sets an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of how other coun­tries world­wide can suc­cess­fully up­scale agroe­col­ogy,” said Alexan­dra Wan­del, di­rec­tor of the World Fu­ture Coun­cil.

“We ur­gently need to shift to more sus­tain­able food sys­tems. Agroe­col­ogy is ab­so­lutely vi­tal to make our food sys­tems sus­tain­able and in­clu­sive,” she said.

The sec­ond prize was split three ways, with Brazil hon­oured for a pol­icy of buy­ing food for school meals from fam­ily farms; Den­mark for a suc­cess­ful plan to get peo­ple buy­ing more or­ganic food, and Ecuador’s cap­i­tal Quito for boost­ing ur­ban gar­den­ing.

The prizes hon­our “ex­cep­tional poli­cies adopted by po­lit­i­cal lead­ers who have de­cided to act, no longer ac­cept­ing wide­spread hunger, poverty or en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion,” added FAO’S Semedo.

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