Skeptics of organic farming will say that Bhutan will be able to grow less food once this is fully implemented, but the government actually expects Bhutan to be able to increase production amounts and start exporting to neighboring countries such as India and China. Farmers have already been experimenting with different methods of growing crops and irrigation practices, as well as choosing traditional varieties of crops that do not require inputs and are pest resistant.
There is no target date for the completion of this transition, as Pema Gyamtsho, Bhutan’s minister of agriculture and forests, says, “We cannot do it tomorrow. Instead we will achieve it region by region and crop by crop.”
This developing country is beginning to experience many of the issues that come from “rapidly emerging countries” and Gyamtsho believes that Bhutan’s future will depend on how it responds to development challenges like climate change and food and energy security. As Bhutan is an agrarian nation, it makes sense to create policies at the agricultural level.
The reasons for choosing a transition to organic farming are philosophical and practical. Bhutan is an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation, and as Gyamtsho says, “…we believe in living in harmony with nature. Animals have the right to live, we like to see plants happy and insects happy.” In terms of practicality, Bhutan is mountainous, which means that any chemicals used in farming will inevitably trickle into other, unintended places. Additionally, most of the country’s farmers practice traditional farming methods anyway, so Bhutan is already largely organic.
While there are various challenges to going 100% organic, the future of this plan is hopeful for Bhutan as it is already one of the world’s most sustainable countries; 95% of the population has clean water and electricity, 80% of the country is forested, and it is carbon neutral and food secure.
What do you think? Have you tried any organic farming practices in your fields? Will Bhutan be able to accomplish its plans?
-Kirsten Hoaby, Titan Outlet Store Team