Food policy objectives in Bhutan have shifted over time. The Fifth and Sixth Five-Year Plans (1981-86 and 1987-92) called for self-sufficiency in staple foods. However, recent Five-Year Plans and the 2007 Bhutan National Food Security Strategy Paper have focused more food security, defined as the ability of households and the nation to obtain sufficient food for an active, healthy life, regardless of whether it is home produced, locally produced, or imported. The 2007-08 global food crisis has highlighted some of the risks of relying on food imports, leading to renewed interest in staple grain self-sufficiency in Bhutan.
Since Bhutan is already self-sufficient in maize and wheat imports are relatively small, most of the interest in food self-sufficiency is focused on rice. Bhutan consumes approximately 100 thousand tonnes of rice annual, about half of which is imported from India.
The interest in rice self-sufficiency raises a number of key questions: Based on current trends, is rice self-sufficiency likely to increase or decrease? Is it feasible to reach full rice self-sufficiency in the medium-term? And if so, what would it take to reach 100% rice self-sufficiency?