Agro-ecology is a method using local knowledge to grow a diverse natural ecosystem as well as to encourage the sustainability of the farming system as a whole. Nowadays, agro-ecology has been gradually adopted by some Asian and African countries.
Bhutan gave the first step towards organic agricultural in 2003. The key of organic agriculture is to unify food production and ecological sustainability, which has much common with the developmental policy goal and philosophy of Bhutan’s GNH (the Gross National Happiness). As a result, Bhutan aims to make the entire country’s agricultural system organic by the year 2020.
In order to boost conventional farmers to turn into organic growers, Bhutan’s government has many different approaches. Starting from public education, the government is encouraging children to participate in specific classes on nature and agriculture. Subsequently, the knowledge gained by the youngsters is integrated with the local and traditional knowledge of the elders. Secondly, Bhutan’s authority is engaged in allocating financial and technological aid for organic farmers.
According to Mr.Sonam Tashi, lecturer of Bhutan’s College of Natural Resources at the International Forum for Wellbeing (6-9 June 2018, Grenoble), the organic farming program is having a good reputation in society, although being constrained by several factors. For example, Bhutan does not have any specific organic certification in place yet and this blocks the export growth given that some products cannot be recognized or certified.
So far, the organic products exported are approved expensively by third-country certifiers. In addition, Tashi pointed out that according to recent research Bhutan’s organic production might be insufficient to be provided for the whole country.
As opposed to Bhutan’s concern, Laos and South Africa’s representatives in the Forum confirmed that their countries could become independent in the provision of organic production. Mrs.Chanthalangsy Sisouvanh, from Laos’ Towards Organic Asia organization argued: “About 20 years before, we had not had any idea about chemical agricultural products in Laos, but we survived. Of course there is a raising concern when population blooms. However, compared to the past, we could increase the productivity significantly thanks to technological development. […] Moreover, the Laotians know how to find edible foods from nature, especially from the forest. We eat everything like mushroom, flowers, wild vegetables, insects, etc. Instead of paying about 2 euros for 10 crickets sold in the market, people could take them freely in rural areas. Therefore, it would be difficult to find deep famine in Laos”.
Mr.Method Gundiwa from EarthLore organization of South Africa affirmed the same for his country. Nowadays, at least 65% of the daily food comes from small-scale farmers while large-scale farmers’ product is mainly exported, he said.