18-20 December, Paro: Organic agriculture contributes to mitigating climate change and enhancing rural livelihood due to which it is gaining popularity globally. Experts say that organic agriculture has great potential in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region. But, despite the growing demand for organic products, the region faces numerous challenges due to a lack of awareness and marketing mechanisms.
To ensure the sustainability of organic agriculture, climate and agriculture experts from 11 countries attended a Regional Symposium on Organic Agriculture: Youth engagement and enterprise development. Participants discussed how the HKH countries can develop appropriate institutional mechanisms, fostered business partnership and identified evidence-based technologies with a particular emphasis on Bhutan. The symposium also served as a networking platform to share the knowledge, bridge gaps and improve regional understanding of organic farming systems.
Emphasizing the fact that the organic is good for health, environment and economy, the Chief Guest, the Hon’ble Sanam Lyonpo, Yeshey Penjor in his address said, “Bhutan is committed for Organic Agriculture” and highlighted the need for regional collaborations to support Bhutan’s organic challenges.
Dr. Eklabya Sharma, the Deputy Director General of ICIMOD, while sharing about the organic agriculture in HKH stressed on creating economic opportunities for youth and learning organic experience from Sikkim. He also emphasized to have a regional organic vision.
The symposium adopted various resolutions related to technologies, market, technical experts, and youth and women agri-entrepreneurs. It highlights that all HKH countries have great potential for using organic farming as a means to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The floor also recommended creating a regional network of lead farmers promote farming goals and to have a knowledge management database for a good understanding of organic farming among others.
According to a spokesperson, the symposium was a good opportunity to take forward the organic agriculture development in Bhutan and particularly in implementing the National Organic Flagship Programme.
Today, Bhutan has 263.59 acres of the certified area under organic agriculture with 15 organic certified products. There are 24 farmer groups/cooperatives, 3 retailers and 1 exporter involved in organic production and marketing. The country targets to achieve 100% organic farming by 2035.
The Agriculture Research and Development Centre-Yusipang and ICIMOD jointly organized the symposium as a part of the Resilient Mountain Solutions initiative with support from Governments of Norway and Sweden.
Meanwhile, participants also had an opportunity to explore local organic products from Bhutan, Nepal, India and Thailand. For many aspiring entrepreneurs, the marketplace served as a forum to discuss potential opportunities. The symposium ended with a field visit to research centres at Bajo and Yusipang and business meetings.
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