Bhutan bans pesticides to become world’s first country with wholly organic agriculture

argylesock says… I wonder what the Bhutanese people think or feel about this. Their country is described here as a ‘kingdom’ – does that mean that their ban on herbicides and pesticides has been imposed from above? Call me cynical but I hope these people aren’t about to face something like China’s Great Leap Forward under Chairman Mao.


This interesting article from the Guardian focuses on Bhutan’s plan to ban the sale and use of pesticides and become the first and only nation in the world with all-organic agriculture…. below is a snippet from the article followed by a link to the original

“Bhutan plans to become the first country in the world to turn its agriculture completely organic, banning the sales of pesticides and herbicides and relying on its own animals and farm waste for fertilisers.

But rather than accept that this will mean farmers of the small Himalayan kingdom of around 1.2m people (according to Pema Gyamtsho, Bhutan’s minister of agriculture and forests; the World Bank estimates it at around 740,000) will be able to grow less food, the government expects them to be able to grow more – and to export increasing amounts of high quality niche foods to neighbouring India, China and other countries…”

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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10 Responses to Bhutan bans pesticides to become world’s first country with wholly organic agriculture

  1. EqFe says:

    Just another democracy that pretends its still an absolute monarchy, you know how that goes. Although I’m not sure what you mean by imposed by above. In any modern democracy like the one’s you and I live in, we elect representatives, and they pass and ultimately enforce law. A quick google search indicates that this “ban” is asperational and there are no definite implementation dates. Clearly it can’t be done overnight, I found this article informative

    • argylesock says:

      Did you notice that the article you’ve linked to is a republication of the article I linked to? Yes, it’s informative. It doesn’t address my question about whether Bhutan is an absolute monarchy, aka hereditary dictatorship – that’s what I mean by change being ‘imposed from above’.

      In fact, apparently Bhutan is now a constitutional monarchy. The King retains some actual power but he’s now obliged to hold elections and to collaborate with the elected parliament. So it’s less democratic than my country (the British Royal Family is mostly symbolic) and even less so than yours (no North American Royal Family).

      For some reason (colonial history?) there are, evidently, links between Bhutan and Denmark. Here’s what the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs says about ‘Bhutan’s way to democracy’ That source is interesting but to my eyes, it seems to be putting a positive spin on the story. Still, another source of information is the Danish Intitute for Parties and Democracy which tells the story of ‘Bhutan: The Challenge of Moving from Monarchy to Democracy’ here

      It will be interesting to watch how this ‘poster child for development’ changes as it becomes more connected to the outside world. I wish the Bhutanese people every success.

      • EqFe says:

        I did rerearch Bhutan for of government, before I referred to it as a democracy that pretends to still be an absolute monarcy. Truthfully, expecially lately in light of my country’s refusal to lable GMOs I can’t help to wonder if we should call a republic of any kind a Democracy in the strict original Greek use of the word. They are all composed of a small group, albeit elected imposing their will on the rest of us.
        Lol, I linked the wrong article, the one I wanted to link was more oriented to current agricultural practices. I don’t know whether one should call it a positive spin to the story. In my view there isn’t much of a story. A misleading announcement is more what it looks like to me. They announced a ban on pesticides with no plans to implement it.
        The way Bhutan is described reminds me of Hunza before it was annexed by Pakistan.

  2. Sonam Tashi says:

    To write a story about Bhutan, first credible thing to do is to visit that country and stay there for a reasonable length of time. Without doing that you’ll not do justice to writing and at worse you’ll only misinform the mass and make a fool of yourself.

    • argylesock says:

      Have you lived in Bhutan? Please enlighten us if you want to.

      • Sonam Tashi says:

        I come from Bhutan!!

        • argylesock says:

          Oh do you? So what do you, and your countryfolk, think about the change to all organic farming?

          • Sonam Tashi says:

            Unfortunately I can’t speak for others as we individuals are different (and I don’t want them to accuse me for wrongly speaking their minds!)!.
            But personally, going organic is the best decision we ever made for reasons that are there for all of us to see. What makes organic farming attractive to me is its sustainability aspect and its four principles. Of course, unfortunately some or perhaps many of the organic farmers (may be unintentionally) don’t seem to strictly abide by these principles for their own reasons.
            Whilst GMOs and other agro-chemicals may be good for the short term, for immediate gain, but eventually the intensive use of chemicals is more likely to sicken the very productive base, i.e. the soil. And of course, as we’ve all been told that GMOs can trigger not only “superweeds” and super resistant pests but also affect our health. And one other very important thing that we often forget in this debate between conventional and organic farming is that actually there is enough food in the world save that because of unequally purchasing power people have no excess to food. So if we try and fix this food distribution channel and system, I guess then we need not have to invest our resources on researches on GMOs and other agro-chemicals.

            And of course, you’re welcome in Bhutan (if you’ve not been there before!).

  3. argylesock says:

    Thank you for this.

    • Sonam Tashi says:

      No, agro-chemicals have not been banned yet! It is just a rumor. The government will not ban these as yet. One of the reasons for this is because import and use of agro-chemicals are very limited in terms of quantity and type. There’re large amjority of farmers without access these chemicals. And there are some farmers who intentionally avoid using these chemicals.

      The other reason could be because there’re not many readily available options pertaining to plant protection, especially weeds in paddy rice and potato which are the stables and economic crops of Bhutan.

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