Bhutan

WFP’s support to Climate Resilient Agriculture and Food Systems in Bhutan (2019-2023)

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1. National Priorities for the Agriculture Sector

In the 12th Five Year Plan (FYP) 2018-23, the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) has drawn strategies to promote commercialization, agribusiness development and diversification while ensuring food selfsufficiency. The Renewable Natural Resources (RNR) theme for the 12th FYP is “Enhancing food selfsufficiency and spurring RNR sector transformation while ensuring sustainable natural resource management”. While about 60% of the population is engaged in agriculture, Bhutan still imports about 50% of its total food consumption. Hence, the approach in the 12th FYP is to strive to achieve national food selfsufficiency while asserting commercialisation and market intensification programs across the agriculture value chain

2. Challenges in the Agriculture Sector

COVID-19 has effectively exposed structural and persistent issues for the agriculture sector, while at the same time inspiring a national commitment to find long-term and transformative solutions to Bhutan’s food system.

Bhutan faces food security issues and is dependent on food imports from India due to limited arable land available for agriculture (2.6% of the land). The country remains highly vulnerable to natural hazards, increased climate variability and change including an increase in extreme weather events. Currently there are limited investments made in research, innovation and technology in the sector. Agricultural production costs in Bhutan are high compared to India.

Some of the broad issues and challenges for the RNR sector identified in the 12th FYP are as follows:

• Rural-urban migration and farm labour shortages

• Human wildlife conflict

• Limited access to assured irrigation and poor water management

• Limited agro-enterprises and commercial farming

• Limited aggregation of production and inadequate marketing system

• Distinct geographical conditions, climate and disasters

• Limited agricultural land resource

• Import dependent economy

• Limited access to credit and subsidies

• Increasing pressure on biodiversity

Employment in agriculture consists mainly of self-employed small-scale subsistence farming with low productivity and often with limited processing and value addition. Marketing of agriculture produce remains a challenge in terms of aggregation, quality assurance, post-harvest handling and packaging, storage, transportation and connecting to viable markets. Knowledge management, documentation of lessons learned and scaling-up of successful agriculture models have not yet been fully leveraged in the agriculture sect