Sustainability of Agricultural Practices in Various Agro-Ecological Zones of Bhutan


  • Priyanka Rai Department of Environment and Climate Studies, College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan, Bhutan
  • Tulsi Gurung Department of Agriculture, College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan, Bhutan
  • Thubten Sonam Department of Sustainable Development, College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan, Bhutan



Agriculture, Agro-Ecological Zones, Bhutan, Sustainability


Bhutan’s agriculture sector has consistently advocated sustainable agricultural practices, yet it grapples with a range of interconnected challenges. These challenges encompass limited arable land, labour shortages, human-wildlife conflicts, and inadequate irrigation facilities, outbreaks of pests and diseases, and impacts of climate change. Therefore, this study assessed the sustainability of agricultural practices at the farm level across three agro-ecological zones: dry subtropical, cool temperate, and alpine. A total of 392 households were selected through simple random sampling for face-to-face interviews. The data collection, analysis, and reporting adhered to the guidelines of Sustainable Development Goals Indicator 2.4.1. The study focused on three dimensions of sustainability, comprising eight themes and eight sub-indicators for agriculture sustainability. The sustainability status was visualized using traffic light approach: green for desirable, yellow for acceptable and red for unsustainable. Results showed social dimensions across the study areas were in a desirable status. The environmental dimension exhibited desirable status in alpine zone. However, around 60% of agricultural land in dry subtropical and 77% in cool temperate zones have acceptable fertilizer management, while about 38% and 23% respectively fall into unsustainable category. Similarly, only about 73% of agricultural areas in the cool temperate zone are in acceptable status in pesticide management, and 23% under unsustainable status. Furthermore, the economic dimension across agro-ecological zones displayed unsustainable status in farm output value with 30% of farms in cool temperate, 78% in dry subtropical, and 74% in alpine zones. Strategic interventions are imperative in addressing economic and environmental dimensions to promote resilient and sustainable agricultural practices in Bhutan and analogous regions. Findings underscore the importance of identifying that similar impacts could potentially extend to other dry subtropical regions worldwide.


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How to Cite

Rai, P., Gurung, T., & Sonam, T. (2024). Sustainability of Agricultural Practices in Various Agro-Ecological Zones of Bhutan. American Journal of Environment and Climate, 3(1), 63–77.