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Bhutan to become the world’s first wholly organic country

Bhutans chief of gross national happiness, Karma Hamu. Credit: Sascha Zastiral

Bhutan (EU/US) The small Kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayas has decided to become the first wholly organic country in the world. The London daily, “The Guardian”, reports that Bhutan will only allow organic farming in the future, while the sale of pesticides and herbicides will be banned.

The country’s government expects agricultural yields to increase as a result and plans to export surplus food to the neighbouring states of India and China, as well as to other countries. Bhutan has a population of 1.2 million.

Bhutan’s agriculture minister Pema Gyamtsho explains that “the decision to go organic was both practical and philosophical”. As Bhutan is mostly situated in a mountainous region, pesticides and herbicides flow down the slopes, thus harming water and plants. “We say that we need to consider all the environment,” Gyamtsho said. “”But we are Buddhists, too, and we believe in living in harmony with nature.”

Bhutan already made history in 1998 when it became the first country in the world to include the “gross national happiness” of its population in its constitution. The term was coined by the king of Bhutan who first used it in 1979 when a journalist asked him about his country’s gross domestic product.

Gross national happiness is calculated in a complicated formula in which nine categories determine the population’s average level of happiness: contentment with one’s standard of living, one’s health, one’s psychological wellbeing, education, biodiversity, the intensity of community life, use of time, culture and good governance. Every three years, officials from the country’s Gross National Happiness Commission set out with lengthy questionnaires and ask people questions such as, “How happy are you with the quality of the air?”, “How happy are you with the government?”, “How happy are you with your children’s schools?”, “How well do you sleep?” and “Do your family members help each other out?”

Please see also: The Guardian: Bhutan set to plough lone furrow as world’s first wholly organic country



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