The tiny mountainous country of Bhutan is planning to make its agricultural system 100% organic. No other country has ever accomplished this task, and Bhutan hopes to achieve this feat by the year 2020.
Bhutan is located in the Himalayas between India and China. It has a population of only around 700,000 people, which is less than that of several major world cities. The country is known for its practice of Buddhism, and it is reflected in the culture. Many of the country’s ideologies revolve around the idea of protecting the environment and preserving nature.
With Bhutan’s small size and green-friendly culture, it’s no surprise that the country would want to go entirely organic. A country like the United States would have a much more difficult time accomplishing such a lofty goal due to size and current infrastructure.
Chief scientist at the Rodale Institute Kristine Nichols says, “For a country like Bhutan, there are some things that are a lot easier, because they are a smaller country. When you’re looking at a country like the U.S., if we were to go 100 percent organic, more than likely it isn’t going to be an instantaneous process. It’s going to be a transition process.”
Bhutan is unique for being the only country in the world to not utilize gross domestic product (GDP) as the primary way of measuring growth. Instead, the country uses “gross domestic happiness”, which is tracked through the overall happiness and health of the population. It’s just another part of the culture of Bhutan.
The country started its transition to 100% organic agriculture in 2008, with the development of the country’s National Organic Policy. This policy revolves around the idea of producing healthy organic agriculture at a low-cost. A major component of the policy has been expanding the resources that are available to farmers. The country has saved money with the initiative, since it no longer needs to import chemical fertilizers.
As part of the program, farmers have had to learn many new techniques, including how to produce pollinated heirloom seeds and how to reuse animal waste as manure.
However, there are some hurdles that must be overcome for Bhutan to achieve its goal by the year 2020. The country has been making a slow transition from rural life to urban cities. This has taken away some resources from farms. Additionally, even after the country goes completely organic, it will still likely rely greatly on food imported from other countries, which certainly won’t be entirely organic.
Nevertheless, it’s still an amazing achievement for the small country. The people of Bhutan should feel proud that they are leading this initiative in going organic. Other countries would be expected to follow Bhutan’s example in the coming years.
However, it will be a very long time before a massive country like the United States could accomplish such an impressive feat.