Climate change impacts in Bhutan: challenges and opportunities for the agricultural sector

The Kingdom of Bhutan is nestled in the Himalayas, sharing borders with India to the south and China to the north. The country is a net carbon sink and has committed to ensuring that 60% of its total land area will remain as forest. Despite efforts to encourage sustainable economic growth at the national level, the impacts of climate change, driven partly by the global greenhouse gas emissions, will continue to affect Bhutan. The agricultural sector, which employs about 69% of the total population, is the most vulnerable to the changing climate. There is need to identify which crops may become unsuitable under climate projections and, equally, which crops may offer new opportunities to rural communities. A joint study by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MoAF), funded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), was undertaken to assess the impacts of climate change on five key crops (i.e. rice, maize, potato, chili and tomato) and three diversification crops (i.e. quinoa, kiwi and cardamom).