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The Grapes of Wrath

Poor Market and High Production Costs Causing North Bali Farmers to Abandon Their Grape Vineyards.

(3/7/2011) North Bali's once thriving grape growing industry is now threatened with near extinction. Bali Post reports that many grape farmers are choosing to either abandon their vineyards or to dig up their vines and return their land to more profitable forms of agriculture.

A visit to the villages of Temukus, Banjar and Kalianget on February 28, 2011, revealed that many vineyards are now planted with wet rice. On the north side of the Singaraja-Seririt highway, near the village of Kalianget, farmers were seen digging up grape vines as a nearby sign offered the land "for sale."

"Maybe the owners have suffered losses for too long, so it's better just to sell the land," explained a local, Gede Mariasa, who was collecting leaves to feed his livestock. The man said that the digging up of grape vines was common in the area as farmers were losing money due to the continuing heavy rain fall in the area.

"What you see is just on the side of the road. If you walk further inland you find even more vineyards converted to rice growing or, in some cases, just left uncultivated," said Mariasa who also owns a vineyard on a nearby beach.

Because of continuing losses Mariasa plans to remove his grape vines and plant rice on the land. Each year his grape production has declined and the cost of the herbicides and fertilizers needed to cultivate grapes is outside his economic reach. "The profit at harvest can be as little as Rp. 300,000 (US$33). It's more profitable to work on construction projects," the man added.

Other farmers in the area report that bad harvest, the high cost of production and low market prices for grapes have caused an increasing number of farmers to abandon their grape crops since 2007.