The Kingdom of Bhutan—a Buddhist nation located in between China and India—recently announced that it aims to become the world’s first 100 percent organic nation. Unlike most countries, Bhutan does not measure its success by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but with Gross National Happiness (GNH). The government of Bhutan feels that it can maximize its GNH by supporting organic food, which will contribute towards a green economy. As such, it announced its National Organic Policy at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012.
No doubt this will take some time. Bhutan is currently dependent on chemical fertilizers, just like other countries; however, it’s developing a plan to slowly phase out the use of chemicals over 10 years. It will first make the easier transitions to organic produce, followed by the more difficult ones that require more planning.
For many Bhutanese people—two-thirds of whom are farmers—this will not be as difficult a transition as for farmers in developed nations. Synthetic fertilizers and artificial chemicals are expensive products, and many farmers already have organic crops. By ensuring that every farmer is pro-organic, the Bhutanese government can reduce farming costs and increase its overall profitability. Bordering economic and population powerhouses such as India and China will make the production of organic food a sustainable source of export income for the kingdom, while contributing to the natural and economic health of the country. Of course there are numerous benefits for the country’s water supply as well with less chemical runoffs.
With a population in 2011 of only 738,627—according to The World Bank—and taking into consideration its commitment to GNH, such an initiative is more likely to succeed in Bhutan than in most other countries. Hopefully their experience and ideas will provide a model for other countries—even if they are smaller countries—to begin implementing the widespread growth of organic food, that this will start a chain reaction. Organic food is linked to hundreds of health benefits, and a simple Google search will yield an endless library of information on the topic.
by Fareed Khan