Bhutan, a Himalayan nation bordering India and China, has announced plans to become the world’s first 100% organic country. The goal is for all of its food to come from 100% organic agricultural practices by 2020, replacing chemical fertilizers with animal and farm waste fertilizers.
Bhutan has a small population of around 700,000 and is already largely organic, due mostly to the high costs of pesticides. Pema Gyamtsho, the country’s minister of agriculture and forests, announced the plan at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2013. He pointed out the harmful effects of chemicals frequently used on food crops, such as poor food quality and the contamination of groundwater.
“We are experimenting with different methods of growing crops like SRI but we are also going to increase the amount of irrigated land and use traditional varieties of crops which do not require inputs and have pest resistance,” said Gyamtsho.
“Going organic will take time,” he added, addressing concerns about harsh weather making farming difficult and resulting in labor shortages. “We have set no deadline. We cannot do it tomorrow. Instead we will achieve it region by region and crop by crop.”
Bhutan is a Buddhist country, so it is also a priority to treat the food and animals well, providing a space that allows all inhabitants to live in harmony while still adapting to cultural change. This also has potential to boost the country’s economy, as demands for organic foods in neighboring countries begins to grow. Overall, it aims to be a positive and healthful change for everyone involved.
Image CC licensed by Jean-Marie Hullot: Trongsa, Bhutan