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Bali declares itself organic, prevents land degradation
Last modified: 2010-03-31 21:10:24

In a move toward developing sustainable natural resources in Bali, hundreds of people, who are concerned with the state of the island's environment and agriculture, on Saturday declared "Bali as an organic island".

The declaration, initiated by an agricultural student at Udayana University, aims to raise awareness to recover the degrading quality of farming lands throughout Bali by applying organic agriculture methods.

"We as the krama *people* of Bali, are fully aware that we have to manage this small island based on a unified ecosystem, and we have to adhere to the traditional teachings and principles that we inherited from our predecessors," the declaration read.

"Organic agriculture is one way to recover the condition of our nature. Therefore, we declare Bali as an organic island."

The declaration is supported by environmental groups and several NGOs, farmers, organic product consumers, local administrations and the Agriculture Ministry.

Ni Luh Kartini from Udayana University, who initiated the declaration, said that the condition of agriculture lands in Bali had degraded due to conventional ways of farming using chemical fertilizers.

"The condition of agriculture resources in this island has been very alarming, especially concerning land fertility and water availability."

She cited that the concentration of organic substances in many farming lands was very low, causing severe drought in dry season.

"Low concentration of organic substance is due to excessive use of chemical fertilizers.

"Therefore, we have to encourage farmers to use organic fertilizers."

Other worrying conditions were that water level in many rivers had receded, and groundwater reserves had decreased due to exploitation.

Lakes have also been polluted, she added.

"But farmers and related stakeholders have not been fully aware about this condition.

"If this persists, farming lands will continue to degrade, and it will threaten our food resilience.

"We expect that the declaration will revive their awareness of how to manage farming lands while preserving nature."

If the organic farming system could be applied successfully throughout Bali, it would also positively impact on the island's tourism sector, because people could develop agriculture and eco-tourism, she added.

Organic farming systems have been applied in several areas in Bali, including Baturiti in Tabanan, Gianyar, Buleleng, and Kintamani in Bangli.

However, Bali farmers still face a short supply of organic fertilizers.

"We expect the government to supply us with organic fertilizers, or provide livestock so that we can produce our own fertilizers," said farmer Wayan Sumadra, from Pancasari village, Buleleng.

He criticized the government for subsidizing state-owned companies to produce organic fertilizer, as those companies would then sell it to farmers, instead of directly subsidizing the farmers.

Desy Nurhayati , The Jakarta Post , Buleleng | Mon, 11/23/2009 1:38 PM | Bali


Keywords: Bali, Kartini, Udayana, organic, declaration, ecosystem, organik, Indonesia, farmer, farmers
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