Bhutan Pledges To Be The First 100% Organic Country
Famed for stating that gross domestic happiness should be the measure for a country's success instead of gross domestic product, Bhutan is a country known for doing things a little differently. Now they're catching international attention again by pledging to be the first country to turn its agriculture industry 100% organic.
Bhutan is a small, Buddhist country nestled in the Himalayan mountains between the international, heavyweights of China and India. They believe the environment and the self are one, apart of the same inseparable entity. The country is heavily forested, only 3% of its land is used for crop production. Wanting to protect biodiversity, 60% of Bhutan's forested areas have been preserved.
The population of Bhutan is approximately 700,000, about two-thirds of which are farmers. Many of the farmers have been growing organically for centuries, using rotting organic matter to keep their plots fertile. By international standards, synthetic chemical use within the country was already very low when the government started plans in 2007 to make the country 100% organic.
Their hope to become the first fully, organic country of the modern world isn't actually a huge leap. Most of the farms are organic by default, synthetic chemicals never having been very available to Bhutanese farmers.
There are those who protest. Facing a booming population, young people leaving farms, and increasingly unpredictable weather conditions, some farmers argue the country must give in to the international standard of chemically supported agriculture. There is even some resistance from government agriculture officials who have trained abroad in conventional agricultural methods.
The Bhutanese Ministry of Agriculture says the program isn't about the environment alone, "its about helping the country grow more food and moving it towards self-sufficiency." At the moment, Bhutan is a net importer, importing rice from India. Though not actually certified organic, Bhutan could create a reputation of producing high-quality organic produce and meet the rising demands for organic produce in India and China.
Though there is no set time to complete their goal, The Ministry is aiming for 2015 for Bhutan to become 100% organic. They'll have remain consistent though, as the small, southern pacific, self governing, island nation of Niue is looking to claim the prize of the worlds first 100% organic country by 2020.
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