August 9th, 2012 – Jill Ettinger
The prime minister of Bhutan, the small Himalayan country situated between China andIndia, has announced that the nation is planning to convert all its agricultural land to organic farms, reports Rodale.
The announcement came at the June Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development when Prime Minister Thinley said the “raised in Bhutan” label would be synonymous with “organically grown.”
Improving “Gross National Happiness”—a phrase made popular by the country’s fourth king some thirty years ago—is the main reason the country would like to shift to an organic haven. Thinley said, “we are convinced that it is on the farm that people can find happiness amid vital communities boosted by the necessity of interdependence, active spiritual life, and daily communion with nature and other living beings.”
The Prime Minister also cited additional benefits to the shift that could improve the nation’s economic standings: greater profits and self-sufficiency. Thinley also noted that the country imports more food than it can produce, which he sees an opportunity for Bhutan’s farming population.
Organic farming would also preserve the nation’s fresh water supply. One-third of Bhutan’s citizens get their water from rural sources. Chemical agriculture leads to water pollution and potential health and environmental problems.
Bhutan is home to only 738,000 people, and already two-thirds of its citizens are farmers. And while not certified, some of the farms are essentially organic as they are unable to afford to purchase synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, according to Rodale. The country has already sent a number of farmers to study in India with well-known food activist, Vandana Shiva.
Shiva operates an organic training farm in India and emphasizes raising non-GMO crops. Consultants who work with Shiva are aiding the Bhutanese government in developing tools that will be used to educate the nation on how best to help the country’s farmers convert to- and maximize organic farming methods.
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