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Those Who Toil the Soil in Bali

Bali Academic Lament that Beggars Earn Higher Incomes than the Islandís Agricultural Workers

(10/27/2012) Working as a farmer is to work in a profession identified with poverty in Bali, with those engaged in working the land for a living generally unable to provide for their basic daily needs, let alone school their children.

As quoted by Septarbali.com, Professor Dr. I Wayan Windia of Udayana University, in describing the dire economic situation of farmers, said, “To buy enough food is difficult, making it impossible to even pay attention to the continuing education of their children.”

Professor Windia revealed that research carried out by one of his students showed that the income of a Balinese farmer is less than that earned by the beggars who frequent Bali’s popular tourist areas. That study showed that a farmer working a land parcel of one hectare earns an average Rp. 6 million (US$625) during a harvest season of six months. Spread across a year’s time, this results in a monthly average income of Rp. 2 million (US$208). Meanwhile, it is estimated that a beggar earns an average of Rp. 2.2 million (US$229) each month.

Making the economic contrast even more severe, Professor Windia says that the average farmer in Bali farms only 25 are of land(2,500 square meters or one-quarter hectare), with some farmers working fields as small as 10 are (1,000 meters of 1/10 hectare).

The Udayana academic said a new approach is needed that will address the welfare of farmers who eke out a living from narrow strips of diminishing farm lands in Bali.

Among the solutions being explored is developing schemes where farmers till the soil in combination with raising stock animals, utilizing the manure produced by the animals to fertilize their farm lots. The develop of organic farming methods has the potential of reducing the cost of production and increasing income by selling pesticide-free produce that fetch top prices.