38 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW JULY-SEPTEMBER 2018 SORENG, INDIA F ifteen years ago, the tiny Indian state of Sikkim launched a radical experiment: Its leaders decided to phase out pesticides on every farm in the state, a move without precedent in India - and probably the world. The change was especially sig- nificant for India, a country whose progress in agriculture was defined by the introduction of fer- tilizers and pesticides that rapidly boosted food production across the country, staving off famine and reducing the country's reliance on foreign aid. But with the indiscriminate use of pesticides came a spike in can- cer rates in industrial farming areas. Rivers became polluted, and soil infertile. Sikkim's leaders say they were driven to go all- organic by those concerns and because pesticide residue - including from some chemicals banned in other countries - was tainting fish, vegetables and rice. The cloud-wreathed Himalayan state is starting to see the divi- dends. Overall health has increased in the state, leaders say, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has embraced Sikkim and organic farming throughout India, pouring about $119 million to support organic farmers nationwide. India is betting that Sikkim can be the global model for other jurisdictions around the world that want to go all-organic. In the years since the shift to organic, Sikkim has outlawed pes- ticides and chemical fertilizers, aided farmers in certifying about 190,000 acres of farmland as organic and on April 1 banned the Pesticides helped bring modern farming to India. One tiny state is leading the charge to ban them. By Annie Gowen INDIA’S SUCCESS Organic farms stand on the terraces of hillsides on the outskirts of Gangtok, India, on May 3, 2016. Photo: Bloomberg photo by Prashanth Vishwanathan