Read the full profile
Economy, agriculture and food security
In 2009 the gross domestic product (GDP) was US$1 259 million. Agriculture accounted for around 18 percent of GDP, while in 1999 it accounted for 30 percent.
In 2009, the total economically active population was 324 000 inhabitants, or slightly more than 45 percent of the total population. Agriculture has a dominant role in the economy and is the primary source of livelihood many. About 301 000 (93 percent of the total active population) are economically active in agriculture; of which 34 percent are women. Agriculture in Bhutan is labour intensive with relatively low farm inputs.
Major crops are cereals, which cover around 70 percent of the cultivated area, mainly maize (30 percent), rice (25 percent), wheat (9 percent) and other cereals (16 percent). Rice is the major staple crop, which is irrigated. Maize is mainly cultivated in dryland regions at lower elevations. Other crops are potatoes or tuber crops, oilseeds, pulses, apples. Production of cash crops such as apples, oranges and cardamom have increased and have become profitable. In several areas shifting cultivation is being replaced by orchards.
In Bhutan, the primary goal of agriculture is to raise the per capita income of people living in rural areas, to enhance self-sufficiency in staple crops, and to increase the productivity per unit of farm labour and agricultural land. Agriculture is constrained because of problems related to irrigation, rough terrain, poor soil quality, limited extent of arable land, lack of improved quality seeds for cereals, oilseeds, vegetable crops, fertilizers, farm machinery and agricultural experts.