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An entire country wants to be 100% organic

Posting in Food

The Kingdom of Bhutan, a tiny nation nestled between China and India, has a different approach to economic development than most countries. Instead of measuring Gross Domestic Product it measures the country's Gross National Happiness as a sign of success (though it hasn't always lead to happiness). So it comes as little surprise that the country looks to deviate from farming and food production norms and become a sustainability leader.

Bhutan aims to be the first country in the world to be 100 percent organic. The new policy will phase out artificial chemicals over 10 years.

Not that it will be much of a change for the country's 700,000 residents, two-thirds of whom are farmers, AFP reports:

Overwhelmingly forested, no more than three percent of the country's land area is used for growing crops, says Gyamtsho, with the majority of farmers already organic and reliant on rotting leaves or compost as a natural fertiliser.

"Only farmers in areas that are accessible by roads or have easy transport have access to chemicals," [Agriculture Minister Pema Gyamtsho] explained, saying chemical use was already "very low" by international standards.

Though, as NPR points out, Bhutan faces a few challenges before it can lay claim to the world's most organic country. First, in recent years the country has become a net food importer (will that food be organic?). Plus, few of Bhutan's farmers are actually certified organic, which means that its food can't be labeled as such in stores where the food is exported. And, there are certain exported crops that are heavily reliant on chemicals.

Still, if this small country can figure out these challenges it could be a model of agrarian sustainability in countries around the world.

[Via AFP]

Photo: Flickr/Bhutan-360

— By on October 4, 2012, 1:24 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure