Sustainable Agriculture In Bhutan: How Hydroponics And Organic Farming Is The Future
Bhutan is arguably among the few countries in the world where agriculture is an integral and active part of the Bhutanese culture even today. A large population in Bhutan make their living through farming and society, in general, are fond of nature. Blessed with varied climatic zones, a diverse range of cultivated food can be produced. Especially amidst the challenges like climate change, soil quality degradation, depleting water resources, and shrinking balanced habitats, it is remarkable to note that more than 60% of the land area is covered with forest in Bhutan. It is the only carbon-negative country with such statistics. The other areas include pasture, arable, and unproductive land.
Despite an agriculture-based economy and special focus on farming the country is yet to achieve the goal of self-sufficiency as far as food is concerned. One-third of the population centered in rural areas do not have food security. Chronic malnutrition and underweight children are major issues to be tackled. At the same time, it is necessary to double agricultural productivity in the near future.
While the country is determined to achieve its vision of 100% organic farming, it is yet to chalk out a productive plan to boost the organic farming system. There are several other challenges faced by the farming sector in Bhutan which need to be mentioned. The migration of the population from rural to urban areas has caused entire farmlands to become fallow. There is an urgent need to educate and inspire the youth to take up agriculture as the income source. Special care must be taken by authorities to change the mindset and help them see the successful future in the farming sector.
Therefore, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive farming sector policy, maximizing sustainable farming practices, and education about the use of the latest biological solutions.
Since 2003 some strong measures at the government level have been initiated in the form of the National Framework for Organic Farming for Bhutan (NFOFB) and the National Organic Program (NOP). Also, in 2012, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF)ensured an Organic Masterplan until the year 2023. As per the latest reports, a new flagship program for the development of the organic sector between 2018 and 2023 has been developed by the MoAF as well. The aim is to produce food in a sustainable manner without affecting the environment, boosting output to support trade opportunities and research and scientific study to embrace new technology and solutions.
Taking all the factors into consideration, Bhutan needs to keep its vision of organic and sustainable farming and at the same time maximize its agriculture productivity in the near future. How can this be achieved? This can be achieved by using new farming techniques like hydroponics and utilizing chemical-free and natural plant growth promoters which improve crop yield substantially.
The Agriculture Research and Development Center (ARDC) in Wengkhar, Mongar in Bhutan is using hydroponic farming. Hydroponics can be defined as a process of growing plants without the use of soil. A nutrient-rich water solution is used instead to supply everything the plants require to be productive. The systems like Hydroponics-nutrient Film technique (NFT) and Deep Floating Technique (DFT) are used to grow different varieties of plants. In the NFT method, a pipeline is supplied with a water-based nutrient solution while in the DFT system, the plant roots are placed in the nutrient solution for 15-20 centimetre at all times.
Some experts believe that hydroponics is the future as it is completely free from chemicals, plants grow faster, the yield is increased and the space required is less. It is a go-to farming solution in unproductive lands.
For traditional soil-based farming, using a plant growth promoter is another great solution to boost plant productivity. Organica Biotech is one of the leading companies with the aim of developing sustainable farming products and solutions. In keeping with the vision, MagicGro Plus was developed which is an eco-friendly plant growth vitaliser. The powerful plant growth bacteria harness favorable nutrients in the soil. The highlight of the product includes that it enhanced seed germination, fruiting, flowering rates, and ultimately yield. This can help Bhutan’s farming sector to double the crop yield and make themselves a food self-sufficient country. Organica Biotech’s natural products can also help to achieve Bhutan’s vision of organic farming.