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Participants at the national workshop on organic farming

Going organic by 2020 questionable

Bhutan’s vision to become organic by 2020 is questionable, said the National Organic Programme’s (NOP) coordinator Kesang Tshomo during the first day of the national workshop on a roadmap for organic agriculture policy in Bhutan in Thimphu yesterday.

Agriculture and forests ministry developed and launched the National Framework for Organic Farming in Bhutan in 2007 with a vision to become organic by 2020.

Kesang Tshomo said that the organic programme was established to implement the framework. But the question is: can the country achieve the targets?

“These questions could have been answered if we were able to implement the national framework,” Kesang Tshomo said.

Shortage of funds was identified as a challenge.  “Target for the 11th FYP is ambitious but the budget was not adequate,” Kesang Tshomo said.

She said that since the NOP never actually implemented the framework, the possibility of reaching the target by 2020 is questionable. “This is the reason why NOP has been trying to get some assessments done so that we can gauge where we stand now.”

The NOP is in the process of assessing the benefits and challenges of organic agriculture in Bhutan with support from ICIMOD.

The two-day workshop is part of the national stakeholder consultations led by two consultants, Sunder Subramanian and Sherub Gyeltshen that was completed in March this year.

The workshop is also expected to draw stakeholders’ ideas and contributions before finalising the draft report. The draft will be available on the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests’ (MOAF) website for input from the public.

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said the assignment will assess the potential impact of Bhutan’s vision of going 100 percent organic and possible impact on environment, economy and social development of the country.

The workshop aims to assess the opportunities and challenges for organic agriculture as a source of livelihood for local people in Bhutan including ICIMOD’s pilot sites.

“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 agriculture ministry has mandated 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.”

Lyonpo 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.

Dechen Tshomo

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