Sikkim, the country’s first fully organic State, won the 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.
The small Himalayan State on the border with Tibet 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 Organisation (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 per cent 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.