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Caring for the Good Folk who Tend the Good Earth

Bali Farmers Need Government Protection and Tax Subsidies to Preserve Subak Agricultural Lands

(11/2/2012) The elevation of Bali’s traditional “subak” irrigation system to the list of UNESCO Heritage Sites has also aroused the interest of tourism practitioners interested in preserving the island’s continuing appeal as a world tourism destination.

Quoted by Bali Post, the chairman of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Conference and Convention Association (INCCA), Ida Bagus Surakusuma (Lolec), said: “The income earned from the tourism sector needs to be shared to ensure the continued existence of the subak that has become one of Bali’s tourism objects. What’s more, the people who care for the subak are of the lower economic class living without sufficient means for their basic needs. At the same time, these people are burdened with the responsibility of preserving and protecting the subak irrigation system.”

Lolec, who comments were made on Monday, October 29, 2012, said the acknowledgement of UNESCO of the subak as a world heritage site must bring practical benefit to the people. Because of this, the income earned by the government from tourism, such as tax revenues, should be shared back to Balinese farmers.

UNESCO’s declaration of the heritage value of Bali’s subak system has had a profound effect on the island’s farmers. With their farmlands now designated for conservation and preservation, the farmers who own these lands should be prevented from selling their farm lands. But, in fact, farmers have often been compelled to sell their lands to meet their costs of living, school fees, ceremonial costs and rising land taxes.

Lolec said that when burdening farmers with preserving the subak system, the government must also help the farmers meet their living costs. The popular leader within Bali’s tourism sector called on the government to prevent future diversion of agricultural lands to other uses by fighting for a share of the airport tax in order that these funds can be shared with farmers.

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