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Strawberry Fields Forever

Enterprising Bali Farmer Persuades Visiting Tourists to Pick Strawberries on His Behalf

(12/8/2012) Strawberries are a delicate fruit that are generally not suited to cultivation in tropical climates. However, the cooler elevations of Bali mountain-lake district of Bedugul is home to a thriving strawberry growing industry that has become a popular stop for tourist visitors to Bali.

Hundred of strawberry cultivators now surround the areas at Candi Kuning. And, while many strawberry farmers sell their freshly picked fruit to buyers in Denpasar or from road-side stands, there are some other enterprising farmers who have chosen to allow tourists to visit their farms and pick their own baskets of delicious fruit.

As reported by DenPost, one of the strawberry farmers creating an agricultural “hands-on” experience is Bapak Lancar (48). According to Lancar, formerly, when he picked the strawberries himself and sold them to distributors he often lost money. But, now, when tourist visitors pick their own strawberries the demand for his product together with the price remain high.

The farmer, who originally hails from the village of Panca Sari in Buleleng, merely hangs a crude, handmade sign inviting tourist passing his lakeside farm at Danau Buyan and then welcomed “pickers” arriving at his door.

Once the tourists pick their strawberries, Bapak Lancar weighs the fruit for which he charges only Rp. 25,000 (US$2.60) per kilogram. Regular customers sometimes get a discount price of Rp. 20,000 a kilogram and its is widely suspected that some strawberries are discounted further through the spontaneous gratification of immediate strawberry consumption before they reach the weighing station.

Lancar takes such petty "thievery" in stride, saying that a strawberry plant will produce fruit for at least three years and the care of the plants is a fairly simple process once they are planted.

He is also pleased that the strength of his strawberry plants minimizes the need for pesticides and the water for his strawberries comes from the nearby lake.

Pak Lancar even manages to laugh when he relates the story of one visitor who failed to buy any strawberries, having already eaten his fill during the picking process.

On an average day this good-natured farmer manages to sell around Rp. 300,000 (US$31.25) of strawberries – an amount roughly equal to 12 kilograms. On weekends and holidays that amount can increase to as much as Rp. 1.5 million (US$156.25) in a single day.

“Most of my customers are families on holiday or teenagers on a date. Not only that, but local residents from nearby Singaraja on their way to Denpasar often stop to pick strawberries to bring as gifts to families and friends in the capital,” explained Lancar.