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Bali Back to Coffee

Restoring Bali's Coffee Industry Can Bring Economic Advances and Reduce Landslides and Erosion.

(3/7/2011) Kompas reports that the government of Bali is undertaking aggressive steps to revitalize the island's coffee growing industry both as a means of improving the economic welfare of its citizens and also as a way of preventing the erosion and landslides that are plaguing certain areas.

As a result of these efforts, areas near Kintamani, Kubu, Singaraja and other parts of Bali once dedicated to vegetable, flower and strawberry growing are giving way to hectares of newly planted coffee plants.

Bali Back to Coffee

In the recent past, coffee was a showcase crop in Bali, representing 92% of all agricultural exports. In 1990, coffee exports amounted to 6,100 tons annually. A few years earlier in the 1980s, a total of 56,000 hectares of Bali land was under coffee cultivations, with 38,000 hectares dedicated to Robusta stocks and the remaining 18,000 hectares to Arabica.

Today, only 31,400 hectares of land is occupied by coffee farming on the island. The decline over the more than two decades is linked to declining coffee prices on the world market and the brighter economic prospects offered by planting vegetables and fruit crops.

However, an improving market situation for coffee together with a growing global appetite for the distinctive taste of coffee beans grown in Bali have sparked a renewed interest in cultivating this crop. In 2008, Bali also obtained organic certification for its coffee crop, further helping to boost demand for Kopi Bali.

An unexpected added bonus from the Bali Back to Coffee Program is the potentially vital role coffee plantings can play in stopping soil erosion and dangerous landslides in areas where it is cultivated. Able to prosper on steep and rocky hillsides, the coffee plants have a proven ability to absorb rainfall as the plant's broad leaves reduced the violent impact of heavy rainfall, which can literally precipitate landslides. According to Wayan Suarna, an environmental investigator form Bali's Udayana University, "coffee planting is the most effective was to prevent soil erosion."

To maximize the double benefits of improving markets for coffee and the reduction of landslides and erosion, the government of Bali allocated Rp. 2.4 billion (US$266,000) from the 2010 budget for new coffee cultivation. This helped result in 2,611 hectares of new coffee planting. For 2011 the provincial government aims to see 1,020 more hectares of coffee under cultivation and a steady annual increase of 1,000 hectares in each successive year.