Bhutan Wants to Become First 100% Organic Country

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is aiming to become the first 100% organic nation in the world.  

The minister of Argiculture,  Pema Gyamtsho, announced last week that the country is aiming to phase out chemicals from its farming during the next decade.  “Bhutan has decided to go for a green economy in light of the tremendous pressure we are exerting on the planet, If you go for very intensive agriculture it would imply the use of so many chemicals, which is not in keeping with our belief in Buddhism, which calls for us to live in harmony with nature” according to the minister.

The tiny Buddhist-majority nation wedged between China and India has a population of just over 700,000. It is mostly known for measuring “Gross National Happiness” instead of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). According to the Bhutan governement this is not just a way to size economic factors , but also sustainable developement,  mental wellbeing and cultural identity.

Bhutan is one of the poorest countries in the world.  About 23% of the Bhutanese population live below the national poverty line, according to research done in 2007. It is said that 90 % of the country’s farmers don’t use artificial pesticides or fertilizers anyway, one big reason being that they are too expensive.  Allthough the country is poor, Bhutan’s economy has grown rapidly in recent years, by eight percent in 2005 and 14 percent in 2006. In 2007, Bhutan had the second fastest growing economy in the world. This was mostly down to the commissioning of the gigantic Tala Hydroelectric Project.

Agriculture provides the main livelihood for more than 80 percent of the population. Bhutan exports, among others, herbs, fruits and rice. Since it doesn’t export huge quantities, it wants to be known for quality so that it can get premium organic prices.

Bhutan is the second nation to make the annoucement to go 100% organic. The only other country that has done so is the tiny island of Niue in the South Pacific, with just 1,300 people. It’s target to reach its all-organic status between 2015-2020.

Facts about Bhutan:

  • The country aims to keep out mass tourisme by requiring  foreigners to sign up with a Bhutanese tour operator when visiting the country and paying around US$250 per day that they stay in Bhutan.
  • Only in 1999, the government lifted a ban on television and the Internet, making Bhutan one of the last countries to introduce television.
  • Bhutan is the only country in the world that has a complete public life smoking ban since 2004.
  • In Bhutanese families, inheritance generally passes through the female rather than the male line. Daughters will inherit their parents’ house. A man is expected to make his own way in the world and often moves to his wife’s home.
  • The country recently set up a weekly “pedestrians’ day” on Tuesdays that sees cars banned from town centers.

If you are  becoming increasingly curious about this country, consider reading it’s national newspaper online: The Bhutan Times

Via: Wikipedia, sustainablebusiness.com

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