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Agri 2024

Ghanashyam Sharma

Ghanashyam Sharma, Speaker at Agri Conferences
The Mountain Institute , India
Title : Organic agriculture as a strategy for sustaining ecosystem services and livelihoods in India

Abstract:

Organic farming has emerged in India as a sustainable alternative to traditional agriculture, emphasizing soil health and the production of nutritious food without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. This study explores the broader implications of organic farming in India, focusing specifically on Sikkim state. Since the introduction of the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) in 2001, India has seen a consistent expansion of organic farming, with cultivated areas reaching 91.20 lakh hectares by 2021-22. This growth is driven by India's large population, with 85% of farmers managing less than 2 hectares of land. Organic product exports from India have shown remarkable growth, rising from €13.44 million in 2002 to €880.15 million in 2021, reflecting increasing demand, particularly from developed nations. India remains dedicated to meeting this rising demand, as evidenced by ongoing efforts in the organic export sector. Post-pandemic, India's organic food market has witnessed significant growth. A 2022 survey conducted across 187 countries practicing organic agriculture, by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), revealed that organic food cultivation in India spans 2.6 million hectares, ranking fifth globally. Additionally, the report highlighted that organic farming occupies 1.5% of total agricultural land, with India witnessing a 145.1% increase in organic agricultural land over the past decade. The Economic Survey 2022-2023 notes that India boasts the highest number of organic farmers globally, totaling 4.43 million.

The organic agriculture movement in Sikkim commenced in 2003 with a vision of sustainable livelihoods, environmental conservation, and widespread access to healthy food. The establishment of the Sikkim Organic Mission in 2010 and the State Policy on Organic Farming in 2014 underscored the state's commitment to organic agriculture. Today, Sikkim stands out as a national and global leader in organic farming, with comprehensive initiatives spanning sustainable farming practices, nutritious food production, value chain development, and market integration. The implementation of these initiatives involved collaboration with 14 Service Providers and 6 Certifying Agencies, bolstered by supportive policies such as "The Sikkim Agricultural, Horticultural Inputs and Livestock Policy." Key strategies focused on capacity building, input support, processing and value addition, branding, and marketing. Sikkim's agricultural landscape encompasses a diverse range of crops and plant species, including medicinal herbs, aromatic plants, and timber species, deeply rooted in traditional practices. To further advance agricultural development, Sikkim emphasizes sustainable practices and ecosystem services enhancement, particularly in forests. Integrating climate resilience into agricultural strategies is crucial for long-term viability and environmental conservation. Sikkim's proactive approach to climate change, as outlined in its State Action Plan, demonstrates its commitment to sustainable development. Over the past 25 years, Sikkim has made remarkable strides in environmental security, notably achieving full organic status. The state's strategy for organic farming and entrepreneurship aligns with global standards while leveraging traditional farming wisdom. Legislative frameworks and policy initiatives provide a solid foundation for organic farming expansion. These efforts not only conserve genetic resources and agrobiodiversity but also unlock economic potential through value addition and market-oriented approaches.

Biography:

Dr. Ghanashyam Sharma, Head of The Mountain Institute India, holds a Ph.D. in traditional agroforestry systems in the Indian Himalayas and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the United Nations University in Tokyo, specializing in Sustainable Land Management. With over three decades of experience, he has made significant contributions to Mountain Ecology, Farming Systems, Watershed Management, Biodiversity Conservation, Climate Change, and Policy Development in the Himalayan region. Dr. Sharma has authored over 80 research papers in renowned high-impact factor journals and books, published over 30 peer-reviewed book chapters with international publishers, edited two books, and authored three more. He has presented his research in 51 international/global conferences, 24 national conferences, and 13 regional conferences and symposiums across 19 countries.

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