Organic Farming in Bhutan

How do we define “Organic Farming” in Bhutan?

We follow the definition of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and say:

“Organic farming is a system which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, feed additives etc.) and to the maximum extent feasible rely upon crop rotations, crops residues, animal manures, off-farm organic waste, mineral grade rock additives and biological system of nutrient mobilization and plant protection.”

Organic farming goes in line with sustainability, meaning that organic production must be in accordance with what nature can provide: Quantity of production will depend on the availability of natural resources within well defined boundaries of agricultural land and/or forest areas. Respecting natural limitations of resources, bulk production must be avoided. Regular yearly increase of production quantity per product will be rather limited, therefore an increase of the number of products offered will have to be considered.

Further to this definition we require to clarify that Bio Bhutan as a private enterprise requires to produce an assurance to the international customer that organic standards and processes are applied. The argument that all produce is per seorganic in Bhutan does not suffice in the international trade. Since customers of Bio Bhutan products are mostly located in Europe, our certificate follows European Standards.

Why Organic Farming in Bhutan?

Bhutan’s pristine environment and prevailing traditional farming systems facilitate an easy start into organic production in the country. It is widely understood, that organic products fetch higher prices at international markets and thus enable to increase farmers‘ incomes for agricultural products in the region and internationally.

Bhutan counts on favorable conditions for organic farming

  • A wide range of ecological zones
  • High genetic diversity of domestic and wild species, including economically important non-wood forest products which can be harvested on a sustainable basis.
  • Small land tenure with 56% of the rural households owning 1-5 acres
  • The continuation of traditional farming systems with a comparatively low input in agro-chemicals
  • Organic production fits well with the Kingdoms policy towards a sustainable development of the agricultural sector. The RGoB introduced organic farming concepts since the jointly organized workshop on Organic Farming in the year 2000

For this event, the International Trade Centre, Geneva, provided three consultants for the conduction of the workshop. The head of the Planning an Policy Division of MoA presented a paper ‚Organic Sector in Bhutan: Current Situation‘. During this event, it was clearly pointed out, that organic production requires a clear understanding about ‚what organic production means‘ at the producers and consumer levels, and that organic production requires certification according to international standards. Today, the Ministry of Agriculture seeks to co-ordinate activities towards the introduction of international standards of organic farming in Bhutan.