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"Sikkim will not deviate from organic farming policy"

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Organic food production is not economically sustainable at present in the state, and even middle-class consumers are not able to afford it. However, the new government will not “deviate” from its policy of promoting fully organic, said the state’s lone Lok Sabha member Indra Hang Subba.

The state will converge its policy with research in organic farming that can help boost production to make the village economy sustainable here, he added.

Sikkim was in January 2016 declared as a fully organic state. However, it heavily depends on markets in neighbouring states like West Bengal for the supply of cereals, vegetables, pulses, poultry products and fruits to meet domestic consumption.

“Organic farming is not a myth, it has been implemented. We will continue to support organic farming and will not deviate from this policy,” Subba told PTI in an interview.

Whatever cultivation is being done in the state is entirely organic. Farmers are not using fertilisers and chemicals. “But, we have not been able to produce enough to sustain a village economy,” he said adding that since the volume of production is low, it is priced at a higher rate making it expensive for middle-class people.

As a result, most people in the state are forced to buy non-organic products imported from neighbouring states, he noted.

Asserting that the state government will address these gaps, Subba said: “We will try our best to converge our policy with research and other means so that production increases and becomes economically sustainable and achieve higher export of organic products.”

In the tiny Himalayan state, use of chemical fertilisers has been banned since April 2018, and even entry of selected non-organic produce has also been restricted.

The 31-year-old Lok Sabha MP is from the SKM party, which won the Assembly elections in May last year to form the new government in the state. Subba hails from Hee Patal, a remote village in West Sikkim. He is a research scholar under Sikkim University.

Outlining the challenges of the new government, Subba said the 25-year misrule of the previous Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) government has left the state “out of track” and is in a huge economic problem.

“We are trying to bring it on track. We are trying to streamline the whole system. Whatever they (the previous government) felt, they did it,” he said.

For instance, the way hydroelectric projects in the state have been implemented, it has not generated profit to the state but become “liability”, he said.

The state has five commissioned hydroelectric projects, and few are ongoing. Total production capacity is 2,000 megawatts, he added.

Asked about the priority in the state Budget for the next financial year, Subba said the government had proposed ₹8,800 crore for the financial year 2020-21 to be presented in the Assembly that would begin from March 26.

The focus would be on improving road and air infrastructure and telecom services besides education institutions, hospitals and training of the youth to make them employable, he added.

Subba also mentioned that the entire five crore MPLAD (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) fund will be utilised on creating libraries and e-libraries, rejuvenating labs and other facilities required for primary and secondary education.

He also donated Rs 3 lakh from the MPLADs fund for the Rhenock Government College’s library where he attended a national-level workshop on the research methodology.

Subba joined politics in May 2018 when he became a member of the Hamro Sikkim Party founded by former Indian footballer Bhaichung Bhutia. He later joined SKM in 2019, a few months before the state elections took place on April 11.

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