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Baliís Ability to Feed Itself in Doubt

Rapid Loss of Farming Lands in Bali Threatens Agricultural Self-sufficiency

(3/17/2013) The rapid loss of agricultural lands in Bali to tourist accommodation, residential housing and commercial uses is threatening government goals to make the Island self-sufficient in rice.

As reported by The Bali Post, data on the amount of productive agricultural land remaining in Bali at the end of 2011 was 39,033 hectares. One year earlier the amount of agricultural land was put at 47,934 hectares representing a decline of 17.7%, in a single year.

The head of Bali’s Bureau of Statistics (BPS), Gde Suarsa, warns that if this trend if not urgently addressed it will mean agricultural production in Bali will experience a significant decline, threatening Bali’s food security.

Accordingly, rice production in Bali for the period January-April 2012 declined 9.9% - a reduction of 31.374 tons when compared to the same period in 2011.

Warned Suarsa: “This has to be addressed seriously so production will not decline further. Even though we are maximizing production from Bali land under cultivation, the owners of agricultural land must stop selling their lands.”

A Bali-based economist, Professor Dr. Gede Sri Darma, also warns that self-sufficiency in rice will be difficult to achieve if the government and the public do not work together to preserve agricultural land and maximize the use of existing agricultural lands through technology.

Professor Nyoman Suparta of Bali’s Udayana University added that Bali can still achieve agricultural self-sufficiency if farmers and other parties share a commitment to work hard to achieve that goal.

Suparta said that the necessary measures to preserve productive agricultural lands were already contemplated in the 2009 Zoning Regulation (RTRWP). Unfortunately, he added, the implementation of those policies continues to be hotly debated between provincial and regional authorities.