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Economy



Agriculture

Sikkim is a land of villages. Agriculture is the main occupation of the people. Agriculture has an history of its own in Sikkim. By and large, Sikkim's wealth is derived from agriculture and forests. The original inhabitants were not agriculturists. They led a very primitive  life. Gathering  of wild roots, fruits, hunting and fishing were their means of livelihood. When Bhutia people migrated to Sikkim they started a semi pastoral economy and sedentary farming. They ploughed only the flat pieces of land available here and there. Settled agriculture stepped into Sikkim only with the arrival of Nepali  immigrants. These sturdy, hardy, energetic and innovative people cleared large tracts of woodlands and made the land fit for cultivation.

 
The  nature  of the terrain and varied micro climatic conditions influence agriculture in Sikkim. Maize, paddy, wheat, barley and buck wheat are the main cereals grown in Sikkim. Sikkim has the largest area and the highest production of large cardamom in India. Cardamom and potatoes are two important cash crops. A special kind of tea much valued by the connoisseur for its taste and quality is also produced in the state. A government Tea Estate is being developed in Kewzing in the western part of Sikkim. There is one more tea estate at Temi. Both these estates extends over an area of 400 acres. Under horticulture, large quantities of oranges and apple are raised. Vegetables, pineapple and banana are other cash crops of Sikkim.

The humid tropical zone foothills of Southern Sikkim constitute the maize cultivation belt. Needing high temperatures and good amount of rainfall,  maize is sown in early summer and harvested in September-October. Maize is an exacting crop and required a good amount of human labour for thinning and weeding process. To save the land from soil erosion longitudinal ditches have to be prepared in Maize fields. Maize is a staple food of this belt. Maize is also used for preparation of poultry feed and beer.

Paddy is another important crop of Sikkim. Paddy is a crop mainly of river valleys. Along river beds the crop is raised with the help of irrigation. Small channels taken out of the rivers irrigate the surrounding land. On higher areas where temperature and rainfall conditions permit the cultivation of paddy, the crop is grown on terraced fields. In the river bottoms transplantation method has been employed  but on the higher terraced fields broadcasting method is employed. Now with the assistance of Agriculture Department new high yielding  varieties of paddy are grown on the terraced farms with Japanese method. Paddy is a summer crop and it is grown every where in the state except very higher areas and most of the paddy is raised on unirrigated fields. Because of copious rainfall during its growth period it is possible to raise paddy on unirrigated fields.

Wheat and barley are winter crops. Wheat is raised in Southern and Central Sikkim where temperature and growing period during winter permit the cultivation of this crop. In areas with short growing period and insufficient moisture during winter barley and buck wheat are raised. On the soils which are not fit for paddy or wheat cultivation or where short growing period does not permit the cultivation of superior cereals, millets are raised.

Cardamom, oranges and apples constitute an important part of Sikkim's trade with other parts of  the country. Luscious oranges are grown in the southern warmer area of the state whereas apple are grown in elevated areas of Central and Northern Sikkim. Cardamom is a foreign exchange earner crop also. Therefore  special steps are being taken to augment  the production  of cardamom.

Agriculture, horticulture  and animal husbandry constitute a mainstay of the largest segment of Sikkim's  population.

eal sense of security  against the menace of the feudal land lords. The Sikkim Government has initiated a plan of land  survey and have also succeeded in procuring S.F.D.A (Small Farmers Development Authority) project for the entire state.


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