Bhutan Converts to 100% Organic

Bhutan, a country of 700,000 people, wedged between China and India, announced it would be the first country to go 100% organic.

The only other country to make this commitment is the tiny island of Niue in the South Pacific, with just 1,300 people. Even with such a small population, it’s target to reach all-organic is 2015-2020.

Although only 3% of Bhutan’s land area is agricultural, with the rest covered by forests, two-thirds of its citizens depend on farming for their livelihood.

The government announced it will phase out chemicals used in farming over the next 10 years. Most of the farmers already use organic practices, but herbices, pesticides and fungicides are used in larger areas.

Some crops will go organic immediately and others, like rice, will be phased in.

Bhutan sells rare mushrooms to Japan, vegetables to upmarket hotels in Thailand, highly-prized apples to India and elsewhere, and red rice to the US, reports The China Post. Since it doesn’t export huge quantities, it wants to be known for quality so that it can get premium organic prices.

Banning the sales of agricultural chemicals in the country will assure customers Bhutan’s products are pure, something organic producers in major countries in the US or EU can’t even claim. Their crops are often near conventionally grown fields from which chemicals can drift. 

Bhutan is known for its use of a "Gross National Happiness" standard instead of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The country protects it way of living by keeping mass tourism out and even banned television until 1999. It recently set Tuesdays aside as  "pedestrians’ day" by banning cars from town centers.

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