Organic World Congress - Hope for the future: Conversion of a state happened in practice!

The Indian state Sikkim in the Himalayas have worked to carry through its organic vision since 2003. Sikkim has converted to organic production! It requires a broad range of target directed actions and plans.

2017.11.15 | Mette Vaarst

Chief Minister Pawan Chamling

The final speech at the 19th Organic World Conference was held by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling from Sikkim. Sikkim is an Indian mountain state in the Himalayas, with climatic zones ranging from subtropical and to tundra in more than 8000 meters height.   

Sikkim formulated an organic vision in 2003, and introduced policies for the conversion to fully organic. The first action plan was launched in 2003, where the phasing-out of chemicals was initiated, and where farmer educations and trainings were initiated. Since then, Sikkim have made five-year plans and have set up a clear governance-frame to support the conversion to organic farming and food systems.  

The vision was not market driven, but rather driven by an urge to establish and maintain a healthy environment, a future for the next generations and a healthy population. This also mirrored a growing concern about a general over-use of pesticides and loss of biodiversity, and should also be seen in the light of the visible and concrete consequences of climate change. It was in other words the contribution of organic food and farming systems to public goods, which was highlighted and pushed the development.

Pawan Chamling raised a clear voice for the fact that conversion of a state to organic farming and food systems requires a governance framework, which guided the way in which the conversion could take place and be supported in a given context. The 12 points mentioned below were articulated learning points given in the speech (and should be read with the reservation that they were written down while he was speaking).

It was an encouraging, positive finalisation of a complex conference, where one of the common experiences was the experience of an enourmous diversity within the organic sector and approaches.  

Chief Minister Pawan Chamling’s 12 important points in converting a state to organic food and farming systems: 

  1. The government must take the responsibility to stop the use of chemicals
  2. Food should not be produced in factory-farming, and the government must have a policy for not allowing these types of production where – in Chief Minister Pawan Chamling’s words: ’if we put poison in, we get poison out’.
  3. Active policy to minimize loss of soil and biodiversity
  4. Prohibit burning, e.g. of straw and residuals left on the fields
  5. Prohibit the use of plastic
  6. Active policy to keep the trees and forests
  7. Economic support of farmers during three years after they have stopped using chemicals
  8. Establish programs for improving soil fertility, e.g. through compost and mulch
  9. Encourage diversified production e.g. of vegetables, minimise grain production and production of crops that need chemicals to thrive,
  10. Increase everybody’s awareness and knowledge what organic farming actually does to save the environment: ’life saving and earth saving’, and that the so-called green revolution caused more damage than benefits.
  11. The government should take initiatives to save the biodiversity also in the flora and fauna of wildlife and nature,
  12. The conversion to organic farming and food systems is a long process which requires governance, and active support at government level. 

Read more about the initiative and process in Sikkim: 




Agriculture and food
Tags: Organic World Congress, ICROFS, Mette Vaarst