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NATURE AND RICE FARMING

NATURE AND RICE FARMING

bali-1The fertility of Balinese soils, along with an ingenious traditional irrigation system called subak, has enabled Balinese farmers to cultivate rice continuously for many centuries. Terraced rice field are found in South Bali on the slopes of the volcanoes. These marvelous handmade creations create wonderful views and even the smallest land areas are formed in such a way that they elegantly follow the natural lie of the land. Irrigation and water distribution is administered done by the subak, which manages the paddy cultivation cycle. Rice paddies are both agricultural features as well as the object of worship and cultural reference for Balinese Hindus.

Based on the 2000 population census, 634,405 people or about 34% of people aged 15 and above were involved in agriculture. Most farmers were from the regencies of Buleleng (315,782) and Tabanan (128,469). Denpasar had the least number of people working in this sector: only

6,978. However, the proportion of farmers to other workers revealed different figures. Bangli (56%) and Tabanan (52%) had the highest proportion of farmers. Besides having the least number of farmers, Denpasar also had the lowest proportion of farmers (2.5%).

In 2000, the agriculture sector covered 340,335 hectares and there were 634,405 farmers. This means that the average tilled land per farmer was 0.45 hectares. Badung, Klungkung, Karangasem, Buleleng, and Jembrana had vaster tilled land compared with that of other provinces, averaging 0.63 hectares. Gianyar had the smallest average tilled land at just 0.42 hectares, but Gianyar is famous for its art, particularly handicraft.

Balinese agriculture classified into four sectors: subsistence farming, animal husbandry, fishing and forestry. For the Balinese, these sectors represent a source of income as well as inspiration for art and other cultural activities. Rice, corn, soya and cassava are the main crops produced.

The main livestock found in Bali are indigenous Balinese cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, and goats. The cattle population in 2003 reached 539,781, which represents an increase of 3.4% compared to 2002 (only 521,973. Other livestock populations were goats (61,958), sheep (13) and pigs (978,020).

In 2003, the poultry population increased, except for that of battery hens which decreased by 3.8% from 4,201,350 to 4,042,339. Other kinds of poultry increased, as well as the production of as eggs and meat.

Fishing catches amounted to 95,549 ton with 13,302 fishing vessels and 21,842 domestic fisheries. In 2004 this produced 2,900 ton of fish taken from 327 hectares of fish-ponds. This revealed an increase of 9.4% compared to 2003.

Rubber plantations cover 131 hectares, and produced 103 ton in 2004. Arabica coffee plantations covered 9,675 hectares, and produced 4,200 ton. In 2004, the area total land area covered by Arabic coffee plantations increased compared to that of 2002 and 2003.

This increased production by 16.48%. In 2002, the production was 3,788 ton and in 2003 this increased to 4,412 ton. Robusta coffee plantations covered a total land area of 26,718 hectares, producing 16,000 ton. This revealed a decrease of 2.34% compared to 2003. However, the decrease in the plantation area did not impact on production.

In 2004, tobacco plantations covered about 2000 hectares, producing 140 ton. This was a decrease compared to 2002 (227 hectares), but this did not impact production. Besides tobacco, cacao plantations increased, covering 7,770 hectares, as well as their production (6,071 ton). Pepper plantations covered 36 hectares, which was the same in 2003. However, production decreased to only four tons. Vanilla plantations increased in area to 500 hectares, producing six ton.

Since times of old, agriculture has been the main source of income for most Balinese. The Balinese agricultural system that cultivates nature in order to fulfill the present and the future needs is based on local wisdom spirited by Hindu values. As a result, the Balinese agricultural system has many unique aspects compared to the agricultural system in other parts of Indonesia. The system applied in Bali has developed its values through its subak system. A subak is a religious, agrarian society based on customary laws. It has grown and developed historically as an organization in the field of water management at the farming level.

The subak has three components: the physical, the social, and the cultural. The physical component includes the means and the infrastructures of the subak; the social component is the management of the physical component; and the cultural component includes values, customs and law. The philosophy employed by subak members is called tri hita karana, a Hindu-Balinese, tri­partite concept. It is based on: Parhyangan – the subak temple as the symbol of devotion to the God; Pawongan – the manifestation of harmonic relationships among subak members; and Palemahan which includes the rice fields, irrigation systems and infrastructures.

To put the subak system into practice, the leaders adhere to the rules, or aw/g-aw/g, which are strictly based on tri hita karana, in order to manage relationships among subak members in ceremonial and social activities, and in the development and maintenance of subak facilities and infrastructure. The subak also has to protect and preserve the culture, the resources and the environment that is passed on from one generation to the next. Tri hita karana is best seen in action in terms of the farmers’ interaction with the environment.

The functional interaction between man and nature aims to keep a balance between the natural ecosystem and Balinese farmers.

In order to keep the flora ecosystem balance, a number of planting techniques are applied, such as kerta masa (planting at the same time), ngaben tikus in Tabanan, or ngragrung tikus in Buleleng. These techniques conserve water as well as control pests (mrana). By reducing the rodent population, pesticide use is also reduced, meaning the food is safer and not so affected by pesticides. This ‘local wisdom’ has been adopted as a strategy to control pests even in the modern agricultural system.

The role of the subak, especially in conserving terraced rice field land, the kerta masa system, and local culture, has proven very positive for farming. Due to the subak system, Bali is blessed with the magical views of the terraced rice fields of Jatiluwih in Tabanan, and the preservation of the area along the Pakerisan River which has been nominated as World Natural Heritage Site (Bali Post, 2006). Through the implementation of the subak, Balinese culture is preserved.

High productivity of rice used to be sufficient to fulfill the need of the Balinese people. However, with the arrival of the outsiders to Bali it is no longer enough. The area used for agriculture is quite large: around 59% of the total land area. Of this area, 20% is covered in forest, with only around 7% used for settlement. However, the population density which has now reached 500 people per km2 will accelerate the transformation of the agricultural areas into non-agricultural ones. As a result, one aspect of tri mandala subak called palemahan will be put out of balance. This means that pawongan will also lose its function, even though the temples (parahyangan) still exist in these areas. There will be disharmony in terms of interaction between man and his nature, as well as socio-culturally.

In order to overcome the flow of urbanization as well as over population, the government decided on two policies: transmigration and family planning. Balinese people’s interest to transmigrate and leave their ancestral land is very low, but the family planning program has shown remarkable results.

The success of family planning program also affects the way Balinese name their children according to their birth order. Since couples are only having one or two children, the names for the third and fourth children are starting to disappear. So, soon you will seldom hear the names Nyoman and Ketut. A son or a daughter is just the same according to the family planning program.

Banten, an offering used in religious activities consists of five elements; leaves, flowers, fruits, and animal (buffalo).

Last Updated (Tuesday, 24 May 2011 04:44)

 

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