Happy Green Cooperative

In pursuit of Gross National Happiness

About the Cooperative

The Happy Green Cooperative is a private and independent organization, registered under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest and regulated by the Cooperative Act of Bhutan. The Cooperative is owned and controlled by its members, currently 18 farming households (52 active farmers, 125 family members) and 19 youth members.

The goal of the Happy Green Cooperative is to create a circular local economic model, based on the principals of interdependence and co-existence. Together with leading Bhutanese and international researchers we are developing a GNH Balance Sheet, based on the principals of the Bhutanese development paradigm Gross National Happiness. With the GNH Balance Sheet we want to measure the progress of our enterprises and projects and make our actions and decisions transparent.

Farming in Bhutan has reached a crossroad. 62 % of the Bhutanese population still depend on agriculture. Yet Bhutan is facing a drastic rural-urban migration trend, because subsistence farming doesn’t provide enough opportunities for the young generation to choose engagement in farming as their future. Traditional culture and knowledge of sustainable agriculture is dissipating. Many farmers are confronted with serious problems like missing workforce and succession, increasing wildlife-conflict and run-down infrastructure. On the other hand more than 50% of Bhutan’s population is under 25 years old and the young generation is challenged by a rapidly changing world, uncertainty and drug addictions.

Our strong conclusion is that Bhutan has to develop agriculture and agro-processing, if it wants to remain independent and strong. Agriculture is the root and foundation of Bhutanese society and its rich cultural inheritance. And Bhutan has an untapped local market for food products and huge potential for export of high-value foods to niche markets.

With our initiatives we want to challenge the current trend by revitalizing rural communities, enhancing Bhutanese agriculture through added value and changing the perception of agriculture especially among the youth.

About Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a country in the east Himalayas, landlocked between the Tibet Autonomous Region and India. His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is the fifth and current reigning Druk Gyalpo. Bhutanese population is estimated around 720.000 people, the state religion is Vajrayana Buddhism. While Bhutan is one of the smallest countries in the world, its cultural diversity and richness are profound. The land consists mostly of steep and high mountains, crisscrossed by a network of swift rivers, which form deep valleys before draining into the Indian plains. More than 60 % of the Bhutanese still live as small-holding farmers. The biodiversity and abundance of Bhutanese farms might be unique in the world.

The development philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH), coined by the fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck, has guided Bhutan over the last decades. In contrast to the exclusive focus on economic growth, GNH sets equal emphasis on four pillars: sustainable socio-economic development, environmental conservation, good governance and cultural preservation. GNH has led to remarkable political decisions and formed Bhutan’s picture in the world.

But Bhutan is also faced with great challenges. Among other issues rural-urban migration, trade balance deficit and economic dependence on India endanger the achievements of the past. Great efforts are needed to live up to the promise of GNH and guide Bhutan into a prosperous future while preserving its heritage.