DW Documentary – Jul 24, 2019 – 25 min
An Indian state in the Himalayas has completely transformed its agriculture and switched to organic farming. Sikkim has become a model for the rest of the world, because its farmers only cultivate their fields and plantations in a sustainable way.
In 2010, the Prime Minister of Sikkim launched the so-called “Organic Mission,” developing the state into a model of sustainable farming. To protect its own organic farmers and consumers, the Sikkim government has even imposed an import ban on conventionally produced fruit and vegetables. This means that the authorities have the power to bury or destroy vegetables and fruit contaminated with pesticides and agrochemical giants such as Bayer or BASF are not welcome in Sikkim.
Would that approach also work in Germany? The growing demand for organic food in this country offers farmers an opportunity to switch to sustainable farming. But in Germany the percentage of land under plough conforming to sustainable methods remains very low. Although the government has set a target of 20 percent organic by 2030, this figure had already been proposed by Gerhard Schröder’s red-green coalition back in 1998. Germany is still far from meeting its demand for organic food. That means fruit, vegetables and cereals have to be imported from Spain, Italy, Turkey or even further afield. Critics accuse the government of a lack of commitment and an excessive dependence on lobbyists from the agrochemical industry and farmers’ associations. The incentives for organic farming are extremely poor. Can Germany now learn from far-off Sikkim?