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Baliís Vanishing Agricultural Sector

Udayana University Expert Warns that the Destruction of Bali's Agricultural Sector Heralds the End of Bali's Overall Progress

(5/18/2014) The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared Bali’s subak water irrigation system a world heritage site.

Despite such international recognition, the centuries-old subak system in Bali is threatened with destruction, as farmers are increasingly selling their farmlands to be converted by their new owners to other non-agricultural uses.

The head of the Subak Research Center at Bali’s Udayana University, I Wayan Windia, said that special international recognition for Bali’s terraced rice fields fed by the subak irrigation system is inadequate in Bali's current situation without an accompanying form of appreciation given to the farmers who toil in these fields.

The declining role of the subak in Balinese society is made all the more tragic given the traditional role of the subak, seen as “mother” to all sectors of development in Bali. If Bali agricultural roots are destroyed, Windia maintains, that Bali’s culture is also then soon doomed for destruction, paving the way for the destruction of development as a whole on the island.

The agricultural sector experienced negative growth of 2.84% in Q1 2014, based on data provided by the Bali Statistic Bureau (BPS).

In 2013 the agricultural sector still managed to grow around 2%, the slowest rate of growth among al sectors of the Balinese economy.

Windia sees the downturn in agriculture in Q1 2014 as signaling the coming decline in Bali’s development efforts unless steps are urgently taken to give faming and agriculture their proper place on the Island.

Total new investment in Bai is dominated to an overwhelmingly degree by tourism, representing 97 % of the whole. Meanwhile, agricultural investment amounts to only 0.5% of all new investments.

Taxes charged on agricultural land remains very high, financially burdening farmers and compelling them to sell their lands. Many irrigation channels are damaged - filled with trash and plastics, and with the originating source of water fought over by competing sectors of the economy amd community.

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