August 15, Thimphu: Experts including the agriculture, livestock, marketing, forests, BAFRA and planning officials met for a day-long technical consultative workshop to discuss the proposed National Organic Flagship Program at Ariya Hotel.
The task force members under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests have drafted the proposal, ‘Flagship program on supporting Organic sector development towards enhanced food security and livelihood’ for 12th five year plan to produce safe and nutritious food on sustainable basis in clean environment.
Bhutan started to embrace organic farming in 2007 with adoption of the National Framework for Organic Farming in Bhutan. Since then, the organic farming has been encouraging and gaining popularity among farmers.
According to a report, 2680 households were engaged in organic farming during the 11th five year plan and 25,667.9 acres of land were under organic management of crops, livestock and non-wood forest products. There are also 24 farmer groups and cooperatives, three organic retailers and 1 exporter involved in organic production and marketing.
In addition, there are three small capacities organic fertiliser production units with annual production capacity of 19 MT. The National Organic Program has also certified four products including potato, garlic and carrot from Gasa and lemon grass from east as organic. All these achievements have adequately built foundation in preparing the nation to go organic.
The organic flagship program comprises goal, objectives, strategies, result matrix, implementation modalities and monitoring systems for sustainability.
According to a spokesperson, to achieve the national aspiration of becoming Organic, a well coordinated sectoral program with adequate funding is necessary to accelerate the progress and attainment of organic status. The country’s agricultural system shows a huge potential in promoting organic agriculture.
The flagship program will be implemented in 20 Dzongkhags covering crops such as rice, maize, buckwheat, quinoa, asparagus, ginger, turmeric, cardamom and legumes. It will also focus on honey, egg, trout, chugo, matsutake, amla, chirata, pipla and bamboo shoot. In addition, the traditional fruits, vegetables, herbs and minor cereals will be also included.
The program is expected to enhance organic production and its marketing and bio-inputs, serve as an import substitution for agro-chemicals, strengthen organic regulatory system and sustainable livelihood and establish diversified organic enterprises.
The floor during the meeting noted that there are several opportunities as well as challenges in organic agriculture.
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