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How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm?

Declining Farm Employment and Diminished Interest in Agricultural Tertiary Degrees Underline Bali’s Farming Crisis.

(7/11/2011) Bisnis Bali reports that formal statistics comparing February 2010 to February 2011 show that almost all sectors of Bali’s economy have demonstrated higher levels of employment, with the two notable exceptions of agriculture and industry.

The farming sector saw a downturn in employment of 30,899 positions for Bali residents aged 15 and above working in agriculture in February 2011 as compared to the same month one year before.

Total employment in agricultural jobs for February 2009 totaled 669,012 workers, increasing to 704,282 in February 2010. The trends began a downward trend in August 2010 with 673,928 farm workers recorded, declining further to 643,024 in February 2011.

A number of factors make working in agriculture an unattractive career option for Bali’s younger generation. Declining amounts of agricultural lands, diversion of farm lands to other economic pursuits, water shortages and the widely held perception that government policy views agriculture only as an adjunct to tourism – all contribute to the declining appeal of farm work for the Balinese.

Professor Nyoman Suparta, a noted educator, says a major change of perception is needed to reverse the decline in those wanting to work in farming or pursue an academic career in agriculture. To illustrate his concerns, Suparta points to four private and public universities in Bali that experienced a decline from 288 agricultural students in 2001 to only 88 in 2006. Of that declining total, 30% are believed to be students who originate from areas outside of Bali.

The professor said students view agriculture as a field with little promise of future security and social-economic status