Strengthening Bhutan’s Food Systems for GNH: Sub-National Dialogues on Food System

August 24th, 2021

Sustainable and robust food systems remain core to meeting the aspirations of GNH and the SDGs. Food systems in developing countries, such as Bhutan, remain weak and fail to contribute significantly to the country’s wellbeing. Entrenched challenges associated with limited land holdings, archaic technology, growing climate uncertainty, labour shortage, and market miscoordination remain difficult to overcome. The food production landscape is further prone to persistent attacks from wildlife and pests and diseases. The Bhutanese food system, in its current state, remain unable to cope with an increasing array of stressors. Such vulnerabilities and fractures have been brought to increased focus during the on-going COVID-19 crisis.

Recognizing the criticality of food and food systems, the UN will be convening a Food Systems Summit towards the end of September this year. Member countries are expected to submit a pathways document outlining measures to transform food systems in each country and lay out expectations for the coming decade.

In this regard, Policy and Planning Division, MoAF in collaboration with Agriculture Research and Development Centre Wengkhar (ARDC) organized a two-day workshop on sub-national dialogue on food system in Mongar from 23rd &24th August 2021 to draw out country specific challenges, nuances, opportunities, synergies, and partnerships in our current context of food system.

Chaired by the Programme Director of CARLEP, the chairman of Dzongkhag Tshogdu, head of the regional agencies (RAMCO Mongar, ARDC Wengkhar and RLDC Kanglung), RNR sector heads, Dzongkhag Education Officer, Econimic Development Officer, Dzongkhag Engineer, Dzongkhag Planning Officer, consultants (experts), and youth entrepreneurs attended the workshop.

Objecives of the Sub-National Dialogue

  • To craft a dynamic and compelling pathways document for Bhutan in an inclusive and consultative manner.
  • To ensure coverage of the diverse geographic regions, and to identify specific challenges and opportunities inherent across regions.
  • To assess key barriers to change, identify opportunities for impact and partnership, and specify targeted strategies to effect transformative change.
  • To bring together a diverse group of stakeholders and also ensure the participation of women, children and vulnerable community members.

Under the main dialogue theme “Strengthening Bhutanese food systems for GNH”, four key sub-themes were highlighted covering various issues and opportunities pertaining to:

  • How we can create climate and wildlife proof Bhutan’s food systems?
  • How can we digitize the agri-food system to enhance production, and maximize efficiency across storage, processing, supply and market chains?
  • How can we recast national policy goals, improve extensions systems, enhance private sector participation and maximise returns from strategic crops?
  • How do we ensure nutrition and health for all?

Following the sub-national dialogues, consultation on RNR Strategy 2040 and Marketing strategies will be held tomorrow, 25th of August 2021. Following the four sub-national dialogues, one national  food systems dialogue will be held at Thimphu.

All meetings are being convened in strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols. Approvals have been sought from both at the national level and Dzongkhag level COVID-19 task force.

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