Bhutan is aiming to become the word’s first wholly organic-growing country.
As devout Buddhists, the people of Bhutan have had little interest in using chemical fertilisers and pesticides on their crops, with only 1.5% of farmers resorting to them to combat pests such as army worm in rice crops. However a move to totally organic production methods will pose considerable challenges to this developing nation, which still relies on many traditional farming methods such as oxen to plough farmland on its steep hills. Although over 70% of the population derive their income from agriculture, Bhutan’s rapidly growing population already requires a substantial importation of grain from India.
“Being kind to the environment and the planet has a central meaning for us,” says Kesang Tshomo, co-ordinator of the Ministry of Agriculture’s national organic programme. Farmers are encouraged to develop natural methods to deter pests, such as using neem oil and sprays derived from chilli and garlic. Pesticides are only available through the Bhutan Government and are only allocated for emergency situations.