(Discovery News) The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, famed for seeking “happiness” for its citizens, is aiming to become the first nation in the world to turn its home-grown food and farmers 100 percent organic.The tiny Buddhist-majority nation wedged between China and India has an unusual and some say enviable approach to economic development, centered on protecting the environment and focusing on mental well-being.
Its development model measuring “Gross National Happiness” instead of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been discussed at the United Nations and has been publicly backed by leaders from Britain and France, among others.
It banned television until 1999, keeps out mass tourism to shield its culture from foreign influence, and most recently set up a weekly “pedestrians’ day” on Tuesdays that sees cars banned from town centers.
Its determination to chart a different path can be seen in its new policy to phase out artificial chemicals in farming in the next 10 years, making its staple foods of wheat and potatoes, as well as its fruits, 100 percent organic.
“Bhutan has decided to go for a green economy in light of the tremendous pressure we are exerting on the planet,” Agriculture Minister Pema Gyamtsho told AFP in an interview by telephone from the capital Thimphu.
“If you go for very intensive agriculture it would imply the use of so many chemicals, which is not in keeping with our belief in Buddhism, which calls for us to live in harmony with nature.”