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.