Recognising the need to achieve food self-sufficiency, food security and the goal of attaining import substitution, promoting the role of the organic sector will be done in a phased manner.

A consultant, Sunder Subramanian, while presenting the recommendations and way forward after the two-day deliberation on roadmap for organic agriculture policy in Bhutan, said that this could be done by setting short, medium and long-term goals.

The stakeholders from relevant agencies also recommend revisiting the master plan for organic agriculture in the country developed by the agriculture ministry.

“Although the master plan is comprehensive, there is a need to revisit the master plan in light of the current situation and update, keeping it realistic and with attainable targets,” Sunder Subramanian said.

He added that there is also a need to escalate organic agriculture to a higher agenda as part of the roadmap by promoting organic agriculture as a flagship programme under the 12th Five Year Plan.

In terms of institutional arrangements, there is consensus among the participants that the National Organic Programme (NOP) has to be strengthened both financially and in human recourses.

“Also empower the NOP and give it a necessary coordinating power to coordinate between the relevant departments and with agencies when necessary,” Sunder Subramanian said. “Not just NOP, but other relevant agencies should also set organic agriculture targets as part of their programmes.”

Besides incorporation between the relevant departments within the ministry and with relevant agencies, the participants also felt that an apex coordinating body at a national level should be established if it is found necessary after the assessment to promote organic in general and more private sector engagements to promote organic agriculture.

Incentivising organic agriculture is another key recommendations of the workshop.

Sunder Subramanian said that this could be done by setting some kind of a mechanism for minimum support price for organic producers, particularly in favour of supporting smallholders and marginal farmers going organic.

Undertaking focused market development in terms of supply and demand, and marketing mechanisms; supporting awareness building, product promotion and labeling are some of the suggested ways to incentivise organic agriculture.

The NOP organised the workshop that ended yesterday with support from ICIMOD and the European Union.

Dechen Tshomo