Sustainability of Agriculture Land in Eastern Bhutan

Loday Phuntsho, Graduate Program in Sustainability Science, University of Tokyo

“Agriculture is the mainstay for majority of population in Bhutan with close to 70% of the people being engaged in Agriculture. Agriculture will remain the most important source of employment and rural livelihood of the Bhutanese people for several decades even though the relative contribution of agriculture to GDP is declining (DoA, 2008). The ministry of agriculture and forests has the sustainable utilization of arable land and enhancement of rural livelihood as important policies to enhance food security and reduce rural poverty. However, in recent years agriculture sector has been challenged by many issues like instability of yield, fallow land and land degradation etc. These are apparently implicated to be the result of climate variability like increase in temperature and erratic rainfall pattern. In this regard IPCC’s 4th Assessment report also mentions that in South Asian Sub-Continent, to which Bhutan is a part, agriculture will be one of most sensitive sectors under climate change. However, currently there is lack of study on this issue. Most of the studies have been conducted on reforestation of degraded land and impact of glacier lake outbursts.

“Hence, my study looks at the impact of climate variability on agriculture land sustainability. Many researchers [Kurukulasuriya et al. (AfJARE, 2008) in Africa, M Antle et al (Agriculture and Forest Metereology, 1995) in the US, Reinsborough et al (Canadian Journal of Economics, 2003) in Canada, Seo et al. (Environment and Development economics, 2005) in Sri Lanka] have used temperature and precipitation as two most important factors that affect the agriculture productivity and hence sustainability of agriculture land use. Hence, my study will look at the association between the climate variability and productivity, and spatial relation between the climate variability, land use and land degradation over the last 10-15 years period.”

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