For effective change Farmers must have the support of their Government. When a new road is built into the rice field to construct a Villa or Hotel, immediately the price of the surrounding land increases. Land tax is calculated on land value therefore those farmers must pay more land tax. For farmers who earn an average $2.30 per day, this places them under great financial pressure and for many the only option is to sell their land.
By deleting land tax on farming land, the government could significantly reduce the financial pressure on farmers.
Government also need to do more by supporting every step detailed here, for example sponsoring farmer training programs.
Over 13 million visitors came to Bali in 2015. What if just one dollar was collected from every visitor to contribute to a ‘Farmer’s Fund’. This money could be evenly distributed throughout every Subak in Bali and given to farmers, finally tourist dollars could reach the farmers. The government needs to create financial incentives for farmers, to help them survive and to make farming attractive for the next generation. Government could also subsidise hands-on training programs for farmers to help them grasp new, healthier methods of farming.
LOCAL BUSINESS SUPPORT
Farmers are an integral part of a balanced society and planet. Therefore it is necessary that local communities support their farmers. Farmers maintain the cultural landscape and create beautiful & peaceful spaces. Many local businesses such as hotels & restaurants rely directly on these idyllic spaces for their own business. In today’s current climate, farming is the most important job both in Bali and Globally.
In a world that is heating up, the great work Farmers do contributes to the solutions.
Farming is vital to ensure local food security. After the Bali bombings in 2002 nearly all the tourists exited Bali, those Balinese who relied 100% on tourism were left with no income and no way of producing food. If we truly appreciate the value of our local farmers and want them to continue creating environmental balance, contributing to food security & maintaining beautiful, cultural spaces, we must ALL support them. Local Communities & businesses must lead the way! If local Businesses gave just a very small percentage of their profits to their local farmers it would make a huge difference to them! It is necessary that local communities support their farmers by assisting them with financial support and also thanking farmers personally for the vital work that they perform.
AWARENESS & EDUCATION
The Rescue Bali Project is essentially aimed at awareness & education. Using Wayang Kulit (shadow puppetry performance) & documentary farming films we aim to raise awareness in the Balinese population to the severity of the problems resulting from the transformation of agricultural lands whilst focusing on possible solutions.
REDEFINE THE IMAGE OF THE FARMER
We will raise awareness to the true value of farmers and their cultural lands. We will redefine the image of the rice farmer from a poor, dirty, uneducated person to someone who offers food security, an environmental & sustainability hero. This is important for both farmers own personal image and attracting a younger generation of farmers.
Tri Hita Karana is the Balinese Philosophy. It is the Balance between Man & God, Man & Environment and Man & Man. All Balinese people know of this philosophy but few live it. Most Balinese people focus on the balance between man and God and neglect the balance between environment and each other. If we think of THK like a tripod, if you remove any one integral element there is no longer balance & everything falls down. This is where we are today. A return to living the THK philosophy could bring balance to the island. This will be a reoccurring topic throughout the Shadow Theatre Production.
IGNITE PASSION FOR FARMING
The unique heritage of Balinese farming is something to be very proud of. Balinese ancestors have shaped their island with an ingenious method of community farming (Subak) for over 1000 years, co-ordinating cultivation and distribution of water with ceremony throughout the entire island. The Shadow Theatre Production aims to spark a passion for this farming heritage and to motivate locals to act NOW!
APPLYING PRESSURE TO GOVERNMENT
The ‘Balinese Rice’ Story will raise the question of what Government is doing to protect the island of Bali. We will explore different ways government could support Balinese Agriculture and the alternative outcomes. Bali produces more tourist income than anywhere else in Indonesia but will this continue if the island breaks?
FARMER TRAINING PROGRAMS
DOCUMENTARY FARMING FILMS
Seeing is believing… Producing the evidence of farmers who have adopted natural farming techniques to use significantly less water whilst increasing their income & health. These are the subjects of our short documentary films:
System of Rice Intensification
A relatively new method of growing rice designed to not damage the root system when transplanting. SRI uses specific spacing and planting technique to drastically increase the crop yield whilst significantly reducing water needed to grow the crop.
Growing Heritage Varieties
Growing heritage varieties such as the Mangkok rice makes sense as they have a natural resistance to pests and a high tolerance to shortages of water. As Mangkok rice is not a hybrid, it means that farmers can save their seeds for the next planting season. Mangkok is a brown variety of rice and decreases the risk of diabetes rather than increasing it like white rice does when eaten regularly.
Creating Humus- Composting instead of burning
Before a planting season most farmers cut any growth and burn it. So much carbon is lost and released into the atmosphere. By composting this growth we can return valuable nutrients back into the soil and increase soil fertility.
Seed Saving & Selecting
For decades farmers have bought hybrid white rice seed for planting instead of saving their own. Selecting & saving the most vital seed is a very important skill for the success of future crops and food security.
Relative location planning
Planning the most functional garden set up so that the garden works for you rather than the other way around. By simply changing the traditional location of the Cow there are huge benefits for the crop.
Crop rotation is exactly that, instead of planting just rice every season, farmers plant an alternate crop in-between every second rice planting. Crop rotation increases soil fertility, crop yield and reduces problems with soil-borne diseases and soil-dwelling insects. You also get produce from the alternate crop.
Integration – ducks & rice
Ducks have always had their place in the rice field but not all farmers use them. Ducks play a very important role by aerating the water & soil, eating pests & weeds and then converting them into an amazing growing material…duck poo & pee!
Micro Organism Local (MOL)
Enriching soil with microorganisms sourced from local materials cuts out the need to buy external inputs. By fermenting legumes, bamboo leaves, banana (providing potassium) and silica the mixture is converted into nutrient-rich plant food.
Making Natural Fungicide
The ash from rice husks (a by-product of the milling process) is fermented creating a very effective natural fungicide that is applied to the soil pre-planting.
Making Natural Pest Control
Using the process of fermentation with natural local ingredients a very powerful natural pest-control can be made. Derived from the sorsup leaf, white neem berries, king of bitters, queen of bitters, brotowali with sugar and water this natural pesticide is not harmful to the human body and is much cheaper to produce than purchasing toxic synthetic chemical pest controls.
A new invention that would be beneficial to a Subak-Co-op is a machine that dries rice with a by-product of naturally treating bamboo. This naturally treated bamboo can be sold to locals at an affordable price (currently only very wealthy people can afford treated bamboo) and within a couple of years pay off the whole system. Thus providing huge economic benefit to the Subak.
Many Balinese people learn best by performing an action, therefore it is necessary to follow up the documentary films with hands-on training programs for farmers. The films whilst detailing the specific steps will also put viewers in contact with organisations running these programs within Bali such as:
By returning to non-chemical agriculture, farmers have the power to increase the health of their family, return the balance between man & environment and achieve greater sale profits as new markets for non-chemical produce are established.
The effects of the ‘Green Revolution’ and its imbalance of THK are still being felt. Fertilizer run-off into oceans is causing algal blooms and killing reefs which support marine life. Toxic pesticides kill beneficial species upsetting the eco-system and are then ingested by the population causing health problems. Most farmers rely heavily on these chemicals to grow hybrid white rice. A large portion of farmer’s profits go to paying for these toxic chemicals. Returning to natural farming methods such as using natural, non-toxic pesticides and focusing on building soil fertility will increase the health of the plants, ecosystem and people.
HERITAGE RICE WITH SRI
In Bali, lack of water is a huge issue! Already 50% of Balinese have lost access to fresh water and 75% of rivers run dry in the dry season. Farmers have to compete with the tourism industry for water, as the water table drops rapidly. The climate is also changing and the sum of it all is that water is becoming increasingly scarce. Therefore if farmers are to continue growing rice, a variety that uses significantly less water is absolutely necessary.
The Mangkok variety of Balinese Rice can be grown almost everywhere throughout Bali and as a brown rice when ingested it reduces the risk of Diabetes. Grown in conjunction with the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Method there are huge benefits:
Uses just 15% of the water compared to growing white rice
Increases the crop yield by 35-40% the first year and up to 100% by the 3rd year
Increases profits, selling for up to 350% more per kg
Has only a slightly longer growing season than hybrid white rice
Upholds Balinese Heritage
The building industry pays labourers nearly 3 times what the average farmer earns, luring many farmers from their fields. Growing Heritage Rice with the SRI method increases the farmer’s income above that of a labourer and also increases the welfare of their family.
It has been proven that eating white rice 5 times per week increases the risk of acquiring Diabetes. For Balinese it is common to have 21 servings per week! It has also been shown that brown rice has the opposite effect, decreasing the risk of diabetes. Therefore this naturally cultivated brown Mangkok rice also has a great health benefit on the farmer, their family & all who eat it.
SUBAKS BECOME CO-OPERATIVES
Subak is complex but in a very broad sense you can think of a Subak as a community farming organization. Today there are approximately 1200 Subaks throughout Bali and for over 1000 years Subak flourished and shaped the landscape & Balinese people. Subak never before had to contend with the sale of farmland for development and therefore Subak has no modern laws to protect itself.
Each Subak is a democratic assembly of farmers that meet monthly and therefore Subak has enormous potential to evolve into a co-operative to survive the modern day. A co-operative could co-ordinate internal harvest, packaging, marketing & sale of rice, resulting in returning much greater profits for farmers.
With more there is power… As a collective of many farmers, Co-operatives are able to negotiate better prices because they are dealing in much bigger quantities. For example post-harvest, a ‘rice bank’ would allow a Subak-Co-op to enter new markets by guaranteeing regular sales and thus demand higher prices. For necessary labor such as ploughing fields, Subak-Co-ops could also negotiate better rates for its farmers. A small percentage of profits would go to the running of the Subak-Co-op and eventually there would be funds available to purchase a tractor and/or cows to plough the fields. Another new invention that could be beneficial to every Subak is a Rice Dryer that has a by-product of treating Bamboo. Hardware to benefit the farmers would be collectively owned & maintained by the Co-operative and would make these inputs available for the farmers at much more affordable prices.
Subak-Co-ops would take out the ‘middle man’ who today makes a large percentage of the profits. Returning greater profit margins for farmers would assist in relieving those under financial pressure to sell their lands. A Co-op also has the potential to strengthen the Subak and make farming a viable occupation.
One episode of Rescue Bali’s documentary films will explore this idea.
CREATE NEW MARKETS
People are becoming more conscious to the importance of eating healthy, natural food. As this trend continues to grow so will the demand for natural organic produce. There is already a demand in Bali for organic produce as many restaurants are taking the switch to organic ingredients. New Markets will need to be established to keep up with the demand for Organic produce and for those farmers wishing to sell their organic produce. This will allow farmers to achieve a premium price for their produce.
SUBAKS CREATE AGRO-TOURISM
Agro-tourism is similar to eco-tourism except that its primary appeal is not the natural landscape but a cultural landscape. Agro-tourism can promote regional development and helps to conserve diversity. An advantage of this approach is that rural areas are popular destinations for holidays and daily excursions, particularly cultural landscapes which still give a glimpse of how past generations lived and worked. Agro-tourism can generate additional income for farmers and contribute to the conservation and development of the whole region.
The history of rice farming in Bali is fascinating, so too is the Balinese method for growing rice. Every stage of growing the rice plant is interwoven with ceremony. Agro-tourism in Bali is growing and already there are examples centred around rice farming such as www.balivillagelife.com
There is potential for many Subaks to offer cultural Rice Field tours that could bring additional income to their local community & farmers, thus also assisting in preserving their landscape.
RELIEVE FINANCIAL PRESSURE ON FARMERS
If we want farmers to continue farming their land instead of selling it and wish to entice the next generation of farmers, we must relieve the financial pressure on farmers.
All of these solutions outlined here are in some way connected to increasing the farmer’s income and therefore their families wellbeing.
HEALTHY & BALANCED BALI
As you can see there is no ‘quick fix’ or a ‘one solution fits all’ for the issues that Bali faces today and into the future. However the best possible outcome will need to be a holistic approach where everyone: farmers, communities, businesses & government play an important role. History is our story. Let’s make it a good one to tell!