Proceedings on Roadmap for Organic Agriculture Policy in Bhutan

May 22-23, Thimphu: The National Organic Programme (NOP), Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF), Bhutan, supported by ICIMOD is currently in the process of assessing the potential and challenges for Organic Agriculture in Bhutan to support the development of mountain rural livelihoods in the context of socio-economic and climate change. This activity builds on the work already conducted by NOP as well as on the pilots conducted by ICIMOD’s Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation in the Himalayas-Himalica, a demand-driven programme financed by the European Union and managed by ICIMOD. Himalica aims to support vulnerable mountain communities in the HKH region to adapt to climate and socio-economic change in selected sites in Bhutan.

In line with Government of Bhutan’s endeavours to promote organic agriculture, the objective of this assignment is to assess the potential impact of Bhutan’s stated vision of going 100% organic, and its possible impacts on i) environment, ii) economy iii) social development of the country in the short, medium, and long term; and also, iv) to assess the opportunities and challenges for Organic Agriculture as a source of livelihood for local people in Bhutan (including ICIMOD’s pilot sites).

The assessment is expected to serve as a basis for a consultative process in the country that may eventually lead to the formulation of a mountain-specific organic agriculture policy for Bhutan. The first level of national stakeholder consultations was completed in March 2017 lead by two consultants, Sunder Subramanian and Dasho Sherub Gyaltshen (Former Secretary of MoAF) and involved extensive consultations both in Thimphu and around the country.

In connection with and as part of the above, the NOP and ICIMOD have organised a second level of consultations through two-day National Workshop on Roadmap for Organic Agriculture Policy in Bhutan at the Thimphu City Hotel.

The workshop presented the initial findings from the assessment and sought ideas and contributions from stakeholders before finalising the draft report detailing the findings and sharing the draft widely including on the websites of MoAF for further input from the public, so that eventually it will have a strong and well consulted and assessed strategy to support the development organic farming in Bhutan.

The event was graced by the Hon’ble Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji and Dasho Secretary, Rinzin Dorji.

“I see a huge opportunity and potential for organic agriculture to play a significant role since the majority of our Dzongkhags are part of Project Area Network,” Lyonpo said.

The Ministry has mandated the Agriculture Research and Development Centre in Yusipang to undertake organic activities. “The Agriculture Department is working on the mandates,” Lyonpo said. “This is a step to further enhance our goal for organic agriculture. Slowly, I see an opportunity for other centres to focus on organic agriculture.”

Lyonpo urged the stakeholder from different sectors to think how they can participate in the organic development goals. “The way things were done so far, unfortunately, did not bring expected results.” He said that it is time the nation set achievable targets, ensured required resources and assigned ‘accountable’ responsibilities to the sectors. “We need monitoring system that ensures committed targets are achieved.

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-National Organic Program

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