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Bhutan plans to become an organic country

Growing crop in an organic way will ensure that there is no harm to the environment due to chemical use. (Image source: USDAgov/Flickr)

Bhutan has revealed plans to produce crops in a completely organic way by banning pesticides and insecticides and using only animal and farm waste as fertiliser

Bhutan's minister of agriculture and forests Pema Gyamtsho said the decision to go organic was both practical and philosophical.

“Ours is a mountainous terrain. When we use any chemical, it does not stay where we use it and spreads over impacting other plants. We need to consider the harmful effects of such chemicals on the environment. Most of our farm practices are traditional farming, so we are largely organic anyway.

“Going organic completely will take time. We will do the task it region by region and crop by crop.”

Gyamtsho said that Bhutan’s future depends largely on how it responded to interlinked development challenges like climate change, and food and energy security.

“We would already be self-sufficient in food if we only ate what we produced. But we import rice. People are becoming more health-conscious and are also eating grains like buckwheat and wheat,” added the minister.

Systems like “sustainable root intensification” (SRI), which regulate the amount of water that crops need and the age at which seedlings are planted out, have shown that organic crop yields can be doubled with no synthetic chemicals.

Gyamtsho explained, “We are experimenting with various methods of growing crops like SRI and also going to increase the amount of irrigated land and use traditional varieties of crops which do not require inputs and have pest resistance.” However, a run of exceptionally warm years and erratic weather has left many farmers doubtful they can do without chemicals.