Agrifood Economics

Building the bridge between present and future in Bhutan


The Economic and Policy Analysis of Climate Change team of the FAO Agrifood Economics Division co-organized with the Royal University of Bhutan the “International Conference on Agriculture in Bhutan: Building the bridge between present and future”, held in Lobesa, Bhutan, on 19 September 2022. The conference aimed at strengthening the dialogue between researchers, the government, and farmers on the state of agriculture, its main constraints and opportunities, and possible ways forward towards an even more sustainable and prosperous agriculture.

Many honourable guests participated, including the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor, and the President of the College of Natural Resource, Dasho Sonam Wangchuk. The Minister opened the conference by pointing to strategic areas for government investments, such as water resources and management, land development and management, climate-smart agriculture, and innovations. Finally, he highlighted the importance of the dialogue between farmers, researchers and the government.

Dr Sonam Tashi, Dean of Industrial Linkages at the College of Natural Resources, highlighted the importance of hearing farmers and understanding their needs. He underscored that “field-based evidence may represent the key to better understanding farmer-level barriers that prevent them from adopting good policies and practices.

Farmers' representatives expressed their concerns, among which they identified poor road infrastructure and labour shortages as key challenges. The former limits their access to markets, and the latter forces them to leave the fields fallow. Despite these challenges, farmers’ motivation and involvement are high, and they are starting to invest in cash and new crops to earn an income and increase biodiversity. 

To continue supporting Bhutan’s Government, FAO’s forthcoming data collection will help gather information on farmers’ willingness to adopt high-value crops and the kind of support farmers may need. The later will be critical to inform decision making.