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Urban spread threatening Bhutan’s limited arable land resources

Buthan, Thailand and FAO to collaborate in soil initiatives
©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva meeting with Sherab Gyaltshen, Secretary for Agriculture and Forests, Buthan. FAO Conference, 38th Session, FAO headquarters.

22  June 2013, Rome - FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva  discussed soil and water issues at a meeting yesterday with  Bhutan Secretary for Agriculture and Forests, Sherab Gyaltshen.  

Expansion of urban areas  is rapidly eroding  Bhutan’s already limited resources of  arable land (7 percent of total geographical area), with fertile valley soils being lost to housing and shopping complexes, the Minister said. 

He  spoke of the collaboration between his country, Thailand and FAO in the Global Soil Initiative and in the International Year of Soils. Regarding water scarcity, the Director-General suggested investigating alternative food crops such as quinoa, a native Andean crop, which requires around 100 times less water than rice. Arrangements will be made for Bhutan to receive some quinoa seeds.  

Click here to listen to Sherab Gyaltshen.