The economy is mainly agrarian, despite most of the land being unfit for cultivation owing to the precipitous and rocky slopes.
Agriculture in hill states had always been a challenge the world over. The technological interventions added during the last five decades which have changed the face of agriculture in many developed and developing countries tremendously, failed to change the scenario in the hills. Due to physiographic and geographic reasons they were either inaccessible or unaffordable to the people or they were not suitable to the complex hill ecosystems. This led to the thinking of an alternative system best suited to these hilly terrains.
In order to conserve the soil fertility, medicinal herbs and traditional plants in convergence with cow dung, urine pit 100% organic farming has been achieved in West Sikkim. Every farmer has been sensitized and certification has been done along with the soil health card as a result purchasing power of the farmer increased manifold, the number of inbound tourist have been increased and per-capita income of the farmer has doubled. Due to organic farming the farmers have been granted cowshed in convergence with MGNREGA. Cow urine (GOMUTRA) is used as medicines. The organic farming has resulted in restoring problem of seedling erosion etc.. The organic farming has not only preserved environment but also has preserved human health.
Important Organic Cash Crops of Sikkim
Important organically grown cash crops of the state are oranges, large cardomom, ginger, turmeric, cherry paper, baby corn, buck heat, pulses etc. All these organic crops have a high demand in domestic and international markets.
SIKKIM MANDARIN ORANGE
Mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata) is the most common among citrus fruits grown in India. It occupies nearly 50% of the total citrus area in India. Mandatrin group includes all types of loose jacket oranges commonly called Santra or mandarin such as Nagpur Santra, Coorg Santra, Khasi Mandarin, Sikkim Mandarin etc. Sikkim mandarin represents the most important commercial fruit of Sikkim and is similar to the Nepal or Assam or Darjeeling mandarin.
In Sikkim, mandarin orange is being cultivated since time immemorial. It is a native fruit of Sikkim and is very popular all over the country.
Large cardamom (Amomum subulatum Roxburgh), a member of Zingiberaceae family under the order Scitaminae, is one of the most important cash crops cultivated in the sub-himalayan state of Sikkim and Darjeeling District of West Bengal. In the state the area under large cardamom is about 12,500 ha and Sikkim is the highest producer in India holding a share of 70% of the Indian market.
The fruit is 4-6 times the size of small cardamom and has an acceptable taste, flavour and aroma that stimulate the taste buds when used in rice and meat preparations, besides a wide range of beverages and sweets. In India, it is a popular ingredient of pan masala.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale L.), an important commercial crop belonging to the family Zingiberaceae is grown for its aromatic rhizomes which are used both as spice and medicine. It is an old age crop of Asia and believed to have originated from South-East Asia.
Baby Corn cultivation is a recent development in Sikkim. Major motive behind popularization of the crop is to increase the economic condition of farmers. The potential of growing the crop in the state is visualized from the production and productivity of maize. Thought less remunerative, maize is the only crop in Sikkim which is successfully grown in approximately 39000 ha area across different agroecological condition.
The Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is an important spice used conventionally as a natural food colorant and as an additive for imparting to food orange-yellow colour, flavor and aroma. It is also valued as an antiseptic for its anti-inflammatory property and is used in beauty treatment or in the cosmetic industry and dye plants.