Chhimi Dema 

For Bhutan which has been struggling to achieve food self-sufficiency, shifting its focus to market-driven agriculture could be the best answer. This is what came out of Bhutan Biodemocracy and Resilience Conference discussion on Wednesday.

The conference highlighted the preparation, reflections and recoveries in the sectors impacted by the pandemic.

Chief executive officer of Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB), Naiten Wangchuk, said that food security and sufficiency continue to elude the country even after four decades of prioritised development “which calls for a reassessment of the approach the country takes in agriculture.”

The global trade and networking which was supposed to facilitate access to food was found to be irrelevant when borders closed due to the pandemic, Naiten Wangchuk said.

“Under such circumstances, what we need to ask is, can we continue to be an import-driven society knowing our vulnerability? And can we have food security without food self-sufficiency?” he asked.

To address the growing population and unprecedented crisis current practice of subsistence farming should change to a market-driven agro enterprise, Naiten Wangchuk said, adding that fund allocation for agriculture should increase.

Nima Lama, chairman of the Sarpang Layer Cooperative, said that there were challenges while using the hybrid seeds and rearing hybrid livestock, giving rise to the question of sustainability.

Hybrid seeds, he said, were difficult to manage. “Preservation and promotion of local seeds and livestock varieties is very important.”

The conference was organised by the Centre for Local Governance and Research in collaboration with the University of Westminster, the UK.