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Bali Pushing for Ambitious Switch to Organic Farming Methods by 2013 - Jakarta Globe
Last modified: 2010-11-22 22:25:00

The Bali administration has announced it would allocate Rp 10.3 billion ($1.1 million) to help local farmers adopt organic farming methods by 2013.

Ten farmers' collectives applied for the program when the administration first rolled it out in 2009, and received Rp 200 million each to change their operations to comply with organic farming standards.

They also used the money to buy 20 head of cattle each.

This year, 50 collectives have applied for the program, according to Made Putra Suryawan, head of the Bali Agricultural Office.

Under the program, the administration guides the farmers on how to integrate their crop and livestock farming operations through developing biogas collectors, compost-processing units and reforestation efforts.

"The farmers who participated in 2009 now produce their own compost and biogas for their own household needs," Putra said on Wednesday.

He added that in 2011, his office expected to enlist 100 farmers' collectives from across the island, mainly known as a resort.

"By 2013, we hope to have helped 350 collectives successfully practice organic farming, so that Bali will be known as an organic island," he said.

Putra added that under the program, the administration hoped to ensure that 70 percent of the island's produce was grown organically by 2013.

One of the steps toward achieving this will be phasing out the current subsidy on chemical fertilizers and promote the use of organic varieties.

This year, half of the provincial fertilizer subsidy of Rp 4 billion has been allocated to organic fertilizers, Putra said.

"Next year, we'll provide a Rp 3 billion subsidy for organic fertilizers and Rp 1 billion for chemical fertilizers," he said.

"In 2012, chemical fertilizers will no longer be subsidized by the administration."

He added that with organic produce fetching higher prices at the market than regular crops, the switch would also result in a boost in income for local farmers.

However, a coalition of nongovernmental organizations has blasted the administration's target for making the switch to organic farming by 2013 as overly ambitious.

Kauci Gunanjar, director of the Manikaya Foundation, said an island-wide switch to organic farming would require a lengthy and sustained education campaign that could last more than five years, given the farmers' decades-long dependence on chemical fertilizers.

Made Arya Kencana November 17, 2010 Jakarta Globe

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