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Bali Agricultural Lands Must be Protected

Preserving Irrigation Systems and Tax Relief for Farmers Needed to Keep Bali from Being Paved Over.

(1/1/2010) BisnisBali says that Bali's agricultural lands must be protected to counteract the uncontrolled conversion of farming land to other uses that has occurred over the past few years.

Prof. Dr. I Wayan Windia of Udayana University's Agriculture Faculty warned: "The change in function has been uncontrolled. Meanwhile, land taxes on agricultural tracts in strategic areas are very high. These tax rates are not in step with the agricultural output of these lands."

He said the destruction and the interruption of irrigation systems (subak) is also accelerating the shift from agriculture land use. "If someone buys land, they tend to block off irrigation ditches, isolating agriculture lands further downstream," he added.

While irrigation ditches are technically owned by the local community, the land office in Bali has proven itself incapable of monitoring and protecting the ancient subak irrigation system.

Because of this, Windia is calling on the authorities to protect agricultural lands that are being increasing laid waste by residential and villa projects.

It is equally important, according to the agricultural economists, that tax rates be controlled and kept at a level affordable to local farmers.

The Bali agricultural service estimate that 84,118 hectares of farming land remains available in Bali.