100% Organic by 2020: Explorations into Bhutan’s prophetic pickle

Authors: Mai Kobayashi*, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Rekha Chhetri, College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan
Topics: Social Geography, Agricultural Geography
Keywords: organic, narratives, imaginaries, Bhutan
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 8
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The pronouncement to become the world’s first 100% organic nation by 2020 came as a welcomed surprise. Bhutan has largely referred to herself as already being "organic by default" due to its subsistence level practices coupled with religious dogma that prevents the intentional killing of life in all forms, such as through the use of pesticides. However, with its competing interests in the various myths of modernization, the national government of Bhutan has struggled to promote ‘organic agriculture’. This novel initiative to influence agricultural development was met by criticism, skepticism and cautious optimism that has only recently started to be justified by packaging it into a nationalistic and green growth narratives. Such narratives are revealed and reproduced in the day to day practices of people on the ground, seen in the ways people adapt to and/or resist market-oriented capitalist imaginaries surrounding both production and consumption practices. This paper looks at the context within which such national efforts are being negotiated at the household and community levels as Bhutan jumps over the 2020 marker.

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