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Raise a Toast for Balinese Arak

Bali Governor Koster Wants Bali’s Traditional Liquor of ‘Arak’ Legalized for Promotion to Visitors and Export

As reported by NusaBali, Governor Wayan Koster is committed to fully legalize Bali’s traditional liquor – Arak – that he feels can hold its own competitively with well-known alternatives such as Japanese Sake and traditional Chinese Wine.

Arak is made from palm tree nectar that is first fermented and then distilled into a liquor product that can vary between 40 and 90 proof. For the more sophisticated aficionados of Bali’s endemic moonshine, arak is sometimes infused with fruit and other flavorings.

As a first step in normalizing Bali’s arak trade is the standardization and introducing safety of production methods needed to create a viable brand and prevent the occasional outbreaks of alcohol poisoning that occur among back street producers.

Speaking in a meeting with the Director General of Agricultural Products from the Ministry of Industry, Koster sees the standardization and licensing of the local arak trade as completely plausible, adding: “To this end, the regulation and basis in law must be strong. Alcoholic beverages from overseas can enter Bali, why can’t a local product not be supported?”

Koster said the legalization of arak in Bali is needed to enrich the people’s economy. “First we need a legal basis, assisted by laboratory testing from Food and Drug Administration (BPOM) to ensure there so threat to public health,” said Koster.

Koster suggested that production and branding advice needs to be extended to local producers to make it competitive with imported alcoholic beverages and encourage consumption by tourist visitors.

Although compelled to operate in the shadows legally, in the Regency of Karangasem it is estimate that 910 families comprising some 1,800 people are involved in producing arak. Moreover, 90% of small and medium-sized enterprises in Karangasem are linked to arak production. It is hoped that by uplifting the local arak industry the disproportionately high 6% rate of poverty in the Regency can be alleviated.

The Governor is seeking a revision in national investment rules that currently places the production of arak and other traditional made alcoholic beverages on the “negative investment list."

Joining Bali in lobbying for a change in the rules on the production of alcoholic beverages are North Sulawesi, Kupang and Maluku.

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