Yayasan Konservasi Sawah Bali, an Indonesian non-profit formed in 2013 to conserve Bali’s traditional rice paddies (sawah), increase the income and health of farmers, and maintain Bali’s rice culture in the face of over-development and threatening water shortages has announced the launch of an historic pilot project.
The agricultural land use preservation tool that Sawah Bali will introduce is modeled after a successful program in place in the U.S.A. for over 40 years. Sawah Bali will replicate the Vermont Land Trust concept that keeps the working landscape productive with best use practices for managing threatened natural resources with competing purposes. By conserving the farmland and subak in Bali, water's usage will be prioritized for subak, sawah, food production, security and ritual use.
Sawah Bali’s view is that the overriding central concept for land conservation is to offer financial compensation to land owning farmers with annuity payments to those who continue farming the land. In exchange, the landowner will surrender their right to sell their sawah for building development in perpetuity. The landowner/farmer retains 100% ownership of their land and may either sell it to another farmer or pass it down to their heirs.
The second lead concept evolved because merely protecting the land is not enough to raise a farmer’s standard of living. Economic development is equally important to safeguarding that future generations enter into farming. The transition to organic methods through permaculture technologies and integrated pest management are part of the project.
Heritage rice varieties will replace the modern hybrid rice to ensure greater nutrition and bring higher prices at market. Other crops that are compatible with soils and habitat will offer an alternative to mono cropping which is essential in this era of climate change and shifting markets. These diverse crops will add nutrition to the farmers’ and their family’s diets.
Sawah Bali will provide a supply chain so that locally grown organic surplus will be sold at premium prices, increasing the income for farming families. Value added products might also be created.
Indonesian Development of Education and Permaculture Foundation, (Yayasan IDEP), a partner with Sawah Bali, is providing social and soil assessments and sustained technical assistance for all farmers to assist in the transition to permaculture methods, further ensuring individual and collective success.
The Sawah Bali Pilot Project is located in Subak Malung Bulu Jauk, comprising the villages of Bunutan and Tanggayuda, just 10 kilometers from Ubud. Its 135 members have unanimously voted to become the first subak in Bali to participate in the subak rice farm irrigation district.
Sawah Bali is working with traditional elements of the local community, spending substantial time on socializing their concept and receiving input from community and religious leaders.
Sawah Bali aims to serve as a pilot project for the governments of Bali to serve as a model for even wide conservation practice by the estimated 1,500 subak in Bali.
For more information www.sawahbali.org
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