Economy of Bhutan
When the American astronaut Neil Armstrong, took a “giant step” for mankind, by walking on the moon, Bhutan had just started to build its first roads. It was at the same time when the Russian Yuri Gagarin, went for a tour of space. However, within a span of few decades, Bhutan achieved what other countries took decades. Today, the Himalayan Kingdom is a modern nation where, economic activities have bolstered.
Hydropower, churned from the gushing rivers of the country, is the main generator of income. The country has the capacity to generate 10,000 MW of hydropower. Apart from domestic consumption, it is exported to India, where the need of energy is immense.
Tourism comes second as the country’s revenue generator. The “High Value, Low Volume” tourism policy, has ensured that Bhutan does not become overcrowded by tourists. Since the arrival of the first tourists in 1974, Bhutan has witnessed a major revolution of the tourism industry.
The Bhutanese economy was predominantly agrarian. Farmers supplement their income through the sale of animal products such as cheese, butter and milk. Farmers’ markets are common throughout the country, supplying the people with fresh, organic, local produce.
The main staple crops are rice, maize, wheat and buckwheat while cash crops are predominantly potatoes, apples, oranges, cardamom, ginger, and chilies. Fruit based industries has been established in the country thereby allowing farmers from the nearby areas to sell their produce and thereby earn additional revenue.
Bhutan’s rich biodiversity provides the country with ample forest resources and this has brought about the development of a thriving cane and bamboo handicraft industry. Craftsmen weave a number of beautiful and intricate items out of bamboo and cane including hats, backpacks, floor mats and traditional bowls. These items are then sold to tourists or Bhutanese, supplying a secondary income source.
The Manufacturing sector is another major contributor to national revenue. With the industrial sector established in Pasakha, small scale industries such as cement plants, calcium and carbide, steel and Ferro silicon, Coca Cola and also wood based industries have started developing.
As a result of the recent economic development, Bhutan has one of the highest per capita incomes in South Asia at US$1,321. However the government is unwaveringly committed to maintain and preserve its culture and environment amid the potential for growth.