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Bali Going Organic

Bali Aims to Eliminate Chemical Fertilizers by 2013.

(11/20/2010) The provincial government of Bali is allocating Rp. 10.3 billion (US$1.1 million) to local farmers to facilitate and accelerate island-wide adoption of organic farming practices by 2013.

As reported by Jakarta Globe, the "go organic" program commenced in 2009 when ten farmer collectives were each paid Rp. 200 million (US$21,740). Each cooperative, in turn, used the funds to buy 20 heads of cattle.

In a continuation of the program 50 new groups have applied for similar organic funding.

According to Made Putra Suryawan of the Bali Agricultural Office, farmers are taught how to integrate crop and livestock activities by collecting bio-gas, processing compost and undertaking local reforestation. Said Suryawan, "the farmers who participated in 2009 now produce their own compost and bio-gas for their own household needs."

In 2011, one hundred new Bali farming collectives will join the government-led organic movement. "By 2013, we hope to have helped 350 collectives successfully practicing organic farming, so that Bali will be evetually known as an organic island," Suryawan said.

If the government's program is successful, 70% of Bali's produce will be organically grown by 2013. In this way, the island's dependence on chemical fertilizers will be reduced and replaced over time with more environmentally sustainable organic methods. In the current year, half of the money allocated for fertilizer subsidies will be spent on organic fertilizers. By 2011 the allocation for organic fertilizers will take 75% of the allocation paving the way for complete elimination of chemical fertilizers by 2012.

The government is also hopeful that the switch to organic will reap the additional benefit of increasing farmers' incomes due to the higher prices fetched for organically grown produce.

Meanwhile, some Bali-based farmer advocacy groups are labeling the 2013 target for a complete switch to organic agriculture in Bali as too ambitious.