What Country Will Soon Be 100% Organic?

Rice Field in Bhutan

Meet Bhutan, a tiny landlocked kingdom, wedged between China, India, and Nepal. The home to approximately 1 million people, Bhutan is still largely agrarian. But unlike most other third world countries, its farmers have for the most part resisted western fertilizers and pesticides.

The country is about 80% organic today, and and there is a tension between adapting to the modern way of doing things, and the traditional farming methods. Organic farming aligns nicely with Buddhism, which values harmony of man and nature.

30 years ago, Bhutan was mostly organic. But several things changed that. First, the country up to the west. Large families started seeing their children move off the land to cities, leaving fewer hands to tend to the land. Erratic weather patterns of recent years decimated crops. These led farmers to explore the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The result was an increase in yield.

Although farmers were joyful at first, they soon discovered the real price of their new farming practices. The soil was dying. It needed increased levels of synthetic chemicals to keep producing crops. It has become a no-win situation.

Which is why the country now wants to revert back to organic practices. Pema Gyamtsho, Bhutan’s minister of agriculture, announced last year that Bhutan will become fully organic within the next few years, but he did not specify a date. This is an exciting test case for organic farming. Gyamtsho believes that when properly done, the country can double organic yields. It will be most interesting to see if the promise of sustainable farming can be achieved at a country level, despite all the western temptations.

  • kfay


  • Calamitist

    Yes! I wanna go there!

  • H2O

    This is Wonderful !! Hopefully we can follow their lead..

  • JKern

    Yes! Great! Median income is $2450/year.

    • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

      party pooper

      • JKern

        Okay, this tiny country is not a reasonable example of how larger populations can go organic. While it’s a cute dream that we can all lead simpler lives, the $2400 per capita income comes along with 34% female literacy (anyone wanna say we don’t need to read?) 17% do not have access to potable water. Life expectancy is 11 years less than in the US.

        This from the FAO: “According to the nationwide nutritional survey of 1986-88, the
        nutritional status of children (0-6 years) gave concern, as both the
        prevalence of underweight (37.9%) and the prevalence of stunting (56.1%)
        are considered to be serious public health problems according to the
        World Health Organization.”

        I’m not advocating that the world adopt a western lifestyle, but is this little poor country where more than half the kids MORE THAN HALF don’t grow because they are malnourished a shining example of an organic agenda?

        So, yeah, I’m a party pooper, but I do my homework.

        • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

          If such a poor country can achieve organic food for all, imagine what the mighty USA, with all its resources, can do!!
          Dear JKern, you totally missed the point, but judging your history of responses to this blog, it’s obvious your agenda is to be a contrarian and pick fights. Perhaps you should find a more suitable home for your rants…

          • JKern

            The point is that they do NOT achieve food for all. Children are not healthy, they are underweight and stunted. By no important measure is health or nutritional status better in Bhutan than in the US. What, exactly is there for us to learn other than a constitutional monarchy can dictate policy?

            What do *you* think the takeaway is from Bhutan that the US could use? I confess that this does elude me.

    • Cat

      Maybe we don’t need as much money as we think we do….

      • Stefan

        We definitely do not: A medium-sized city rent bill, two new-ish luxury cars, and school loan debt quickly adds up to $3k/mo. You add living expenses and insurances and it’s $4k/mo. The more you make, the more you spend, then the more you need to make to pay for it all and still live the lifestyle you enjoyed before you were in debt. It’s a horrible cycle and is the root of Western unhappiness. We’re greedy and envious, but we do so knowingly. The things that make me the happiest are camping with my wife, cycling, hunting, and backpacking in the mountains. What’s the cost of entry? $2k worth of gear and supplies. How long is your ticket valid? Forever. Nature in general is a theme park that provides all the food and shelter one could want. I love Eastern practices and I think more Westerners should spend more time outside, unplugged, and offline, and listen rather than dictate.

        • Fontaine Cook

          Spot on and well said.

  • overseaschinese

    A classic example where non-industrialisation makes the country healthier. Before the West invaded the East with its philosophies and economic-(non)sense, we were all happy and content. Now, we are all fighting to survive and try to eat healthier options when in fact, we didn’t need to…

  • H2O

    Which is worse here in America we are all overfed and fat their are children that have type 2 diabetes and every -other person seems to be diabetic or borderline.