Bhutan is committed to its citizens’ happiness, so much so that it wants to produce only organic food in the near future. The country has plans to go 100% organic within the next 10 years, according to government officials. When Bhutan officials refer to “Gross National Happiness” they mean the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens. Producing 100% organic produce in the country is a natural outgrowth of Bhutan’s commitment to the environment. For instance, Bhutan’s constitution mandates that 60% of its land has to remain forested.
Bhutan first announced its 100% organic goal at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in June of 2012. Since then it seems that the Bhutan government has been working steadily to accomplish it. Agriculture and forests minister Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, recently reaffirmed the current government’s commitment to the organic agenda and announced a soft timeline of 10 years.
There are challenges to accomplishing this goal. Mainly farmers are reluctant to seize all use of pesticides because of the small size of plots and the increasing unpredictability of the weather. Additionally, some farmers feel that their produce will be accepted more easily for export if it is bigger, which is usually accomplished through the use of pesticides.
100% Organic Despite Challenges
Still, the government is optimistic that Bhutan can be 100% organic. The estimate for the total land that has seen pesticide use is about 1.5% of the country’s agricultural land. Pesticide use is also highly regulated. If a farmer wants to use pesticides, they have to buy the pesticides from a government approved source. Approval is given in non-routine cases only, such as a blight on an entire field. Officials also say that even though farmer yields increase at first when pesticides are used, over time the soil is depleted. Some farmers realize this and go back to more traditional methods.
The government is also trying to gather knowledge on how to fight pests and crop diseases with bio-pesticides. Recently, Bhutan hosted an international conference on organic soil management. Pema Gyamtsho , the opposition leader explained that the conference was held in order to help Bhutan’s farmers gather knowledge from other organic ecology experts, “The whole idea of having an international conference on organic ecology here is to tap into international expertise and resources available. So maybe we don’t have the solution for cabbages but somebody in Brazil may have.”
Original Article by Anna Smushkovich for Fattedgoose.com. To read more about the drive to be organic in Bhtuan, visit the Guardian Online.
Editor’s Note: Original World offers unique cultural immersion tours to Bhutan, including the upcoming Festivals of Bhutan tour, which departs from September 29 – October 11, 2014.