Food sufficiency has been a matter of many concerns for the Bhutan. With about 38,394 square km of land in Bhutan only about seven percent of the land is arable of which only three percent is cultivated.
According to the food and nutrition security document, Bhutan is today 69 percent self sufficient in rice and other cereals, and 89 percent in vegetables. Bhutan is neither self-sufficient nor vulnerable, but not starving and Bhutanese family are able to eat at least two meals a day.
And while Bhutan has halved poverty from 23.4 per cent in 2007 to 12.04 per cent in 2012, the day brings with it a reminder of the way forward. As a UN member state, Bhutan has agreed upon the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of which Goal 2 looks to, “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.”
As highlighted by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in his message for the day, “Delivering on the promise of the 2030 Agenda will not be possible without rapid progress towards ending hunger and under nutrition.” Nonetheless, the UN in Bhutan, through the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have already, embarked to assist the country to achieve zero hunger.
Another very important concern is the malnutrition situation in the country. According to the National Nutrition and Infant and Young Child Feeding study (2009) it was found that the level of national prevalence was 37 percent for stunting, 11.1 percent for underweight and 4.6 percent for wasting.
As per the research done on rice which is the main staple crop in Bhutan, it was found that higher of rice would reduce the purchasing power. An alternative approach to achieving self-sufficiency would be to increase rice yields through investments in agricultural research and irrigation. The model was used to simulate the impact of different increases in rice yields on markets. The results indicate that a 110% increase in rice yields would help Bhutan reach rice self-sufficiency.
Consumers would neither lose nor benefit, because the rice price would continue to be set by international prices. Farmers would gain and their costs of production would decline, yet the producer price would remain the same, being determined by the world price.
The initiative of the government to mechanize the farm by using power tillers provided to each geog will have a far reaching effect on the food sufficiency in Bhutan , The channelizing of the local rice through the FCB outlets will benefit the farmers on the long run and make a head way in food sufficiency. It is time for us to support our own farmers as they are where we belong.