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Bhutan: Agriculture
Country Study > Chapter 3 > The Economy > Agriculture


Bhutan was traditionally self-sufficient in food production. Most of Bhutan's citizens and a significant amount of its GDP were devoted to the agricultural sector in the late 1980s. About 87 percent of the population was involved in agriculture, and a projected 30.5 percent of GDP was expected to be produced through farming, animal husbandry, and fishing in 1991. Most agriculture was carried out with traditional methods and at the subsistence level. Faced with constraints of a shortage of cultivable and pasture land, lack of technical knowledge, logistical difficulties, and a shortage of skilled labor and managerial expertise, agricultural development was difficult. Grain production had not met demand, and imports were rising in the late 1980s. Shortages of feed contributed to low livestock productivity. Cash crops, such as oranges, apples, and cardamom, were significant, but they produced too little income to influence the overall economy. Government interest in agriculture was ensured during the First Development Plan (1961-66), with the establishment of agriculture and animal husbandry departments to oversee model farms, research, and crop and herd improvement, a trend which continued through subsequent development plans.

Data as of September 1991

Last Updated: September 1991

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Bhutan was first published in 1991. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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