60% of Bali Farmers Below Poverty Line
Nearly 60 percent of Bali’s 800,000 farmers live below the poverty line, work marginal holdings and have very poor access to capital even through concessional loans.
That’s the stark picture presented by Professor Nyoman Suparta, chairman of the Association of Indonesian Farmers. He said at a meeting that concessional funding often missed those most in need of a helping hand. “There is a lot of capital available but often it cannot be accessed by farmers,” he said.
Suparta said latest data also shows nearly one in three Bali farmers make working their land a sideline job and have other employment, often as builders’ labourers.
The farming picture is highlighted by the situation in Gianyar regency, where agriculture is under pressure from industry, tourism and the service sector in competing for labour.
Regent Tjok Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati told the Gianyar Economic Outlook in 2011 conference last Friday it was important to maintain agriculture as a viable and valuable economic sector.
He said planners needed to consider how to keep farmers on their farms and more needed to be done in farmer education and assistance with business planning.
Farmers who have not been able to make enough income should be given subsidies and encouraged to plant premium crops. He highlighted the farming cluster experiment at Chedi and other parts of the regency, including Tegal Alang and Tampak Siring, where bamboo, lychee and longan were being grown and the irrigation infrastructure improved.
Gianyar Planning and Development Agency chief I.B. Nyoman Rai said agricultural development in order to achieve food security was an economic target in 2011 in the regency.
The goal was to achieve readily available food at affordable cost by increasing production and adding value to crops.
Gianyar would develop a database of potential agricultural production, post-harvest handling and management of agricultural products, and work towards developing dry-land agriculture.
Horticulture and livestock production were other potential income growth areas.
Meanwhile breeder hen farmers in the Penebel district of Tabanan regency are nearly bankrupt because of severe weather conditions in which flocks have been hit by extended heavy rains and prolonged overcast conditions. In particular, lightning causing stress is blamed for reducing hens’ laying.
Egg production has plunged 25 percent. One local farmer, I Nyoman Setia Yasa, said: “If these conditions continue for three months a lot of farmers will be out of business.”
Yasa, a member of the Tabanan legislature, said at present farmers were surviving because egg prices were stable, returning farmers an average of Rp770 (just under one US cent) per egg, which enabled them to cover production costs.Filed under: Headlines