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Another Bali Tradition Being Salted Away

The Disappearing Traditional Salt Makers of Tejakula, North Bali.

(5/16/2011) Bali Post tells of how expanses of beach front surrounding Tejakula in north Bali that were once the domain of traditional sea salt producers has seen that industry displaced by the boom in private villas for foreign residents.

While just five years ago large evaporation vats to extract salt from sea water dotted the seaside, today the simple salt makers have chosen to sell their lands and abandon this traditional trade in favor of growing fruit crops further inland. Where the occasional drying vats can still be encountered on the beach, they are generally in poor shape, sitting only as distant reminders of their original purpose.

Tejakula village official, Ketut Suardana, admits that salt production is a vanishing trade in his community, with villagers selling their land seaside lands for Rp. 5 to Rp. 10 million (US$570-US$1,140) per are (100 square meters) and using the proceeds to purchase productive lands away form the shore. Explained Suardana, "because the income from making salt was small, our citizens have sold their shore side property to buy fruit orchards of rambutan which offer a much better income than salt production."

Suardana says that from the 10 salt makers to be found on Tejakula’s shores ten years ago, only 2 remain. He said he felt certain that the remaining two salt makers will soon follow their neighbors and sell their lands to villas builders.

A natural consequence of this process is the fact that the natural sea salt once widely sold in Tejakula has become difficult to find with local salt supplies now imported from other sources.

Suardana admitted efforts by his office to persuade people to preserve their traditional salt making industry for both its economic and touristic value have met with little success. Suardana sadly projects that the trade of making sea salt in his community will soon become a distant memory of Bali’s past.