by Akshay Parashar |Indian Intern| July26, 2017 08:40 pm               

The Balinese Farmer Idol Pak Anggir. Photo © Chakra Widia

Five hundred million rupiah is a whopping thump of money for a successful tycoon. Adequate to buy a new car, allow new-fangled business ideas or even pay down the mortgage.

But for a dirt- poor Balinese farmer who constantly struggle for his existence five hundred million rupiah is an incredible fortune.

So Just imagine the strength it would have taken for 65-year-old Pak anggir to refuse an Australian tourism developer’s proffer to him 500 million rupiah to get hold of his rice paddies in the vicinity of Ubud in Bali’s Island.

“My land is near the Ayung River, prominent for white water rafting adventures so developers keep on asking me to sell it. But I am not going to give up my land Just like this”. Mr. Anggir said.

Bali is the top tourism destination around the globe with thousands flying every year to admire its beauty.

Ubud, the major hot spot of the Island is trailing its magnificence to accommodate the mounting tourists. Developers try to acquire land to put up infrastructures to please tourists. Though tourism industry is the backbone of Bali archipelago, but the adverse impacts of these greater than development projects are destroying its milieu.

“It was extremely tough decision of rejecting the whopping offer but this land belongs to me and my family, In Balinese there is a saying for money “easy come easy go”. There is no point to be “in the black” like this. I told my family we need to buy land not to sell because my ancestors told me that preserving your land was the hard-est thing to do. Selling is the easy way out.” Mr. Anggir said.

Mr. Anggir brave stand to preserve his sacred land and refusing the tourism million rupiah is inspiring the Balinese farmer community. He is Farmer Idol for them.

“I feel happy when my folks address me as their Idol; this helps me to influence more and more Farmers and friends and I always tell my fellow farmers and friends. Stop giving up your land to the investors, who exploit and disregard your soil.” He added.

The agricultural sector of Bali struggled in the past from the era of green revolution 1970s to the tourism boom in late 1990s.The present scenario of disregarding the environment will beyond doubt going to impact the future of Island.

Mr. Anggir is one of the few farmers who switched to the system of rice intensification method (SRI) over tradi-tional conventional methods. He inspires his fellow farmers to do so.

Mr.  Anggir land in the vicinity of Ayung River, Ubud, Bali. Rice plantation using SRI.

“Life is difficult. A farmer life is full of struggle for continued existence. But if a different path can lessen your difficulty then what is the problem?”. He said.

“The first time I witnessed the SRI, when I was passing through west Bali. I saw farmers using different techniques of weeding and rice paddies flooded water was trimmed down. I was curious so I went and asked them about it. Then I got to know about this method. Increasing yield, enhanced soil quality and most importantly lesser requirement for water overwhelmed me. Since then I am going ahead with SRI”. Mr. Anggir said.

The foremost reason for why farmer end up selling his land is quick income. Because the conventional method requires mounting Agrochemicals and hybrid seeds which increase expenditure and spoils soil fertility, ultimately farmer end up with low harvest. Those problems remain disregarded and even still prevailing. Whilst SRI proved itself by achieving every aspect of sustainable dimension.

Balinese farmers performing SRI method for rice plantations. Photo © THK Bali

“Bali is losing its rice paddies at alarming level. Every year farmers give up their land to developers. It is need of the hour to fight back the concerning issues. If we didn’t address this problem, in near future there will be no rice paddies, the scenic beauty of Bali will lost. The initiative taken by Mr. Pak anggir, will not go in vain. It’s high time now. The Balinese farmer should engage more and more in preserving their sacred land and revive the forgotten paradise Bali”. Mr. Chakra Widia said. (Sustainable solution specialist and Mr. anggir farmer friend).

The tourism industry reaps profits from this Island but less or zero contribution for safeguarding this. The tourists are major stakeholders; they can bring the change by getting aware about their favorite destination. The growing influx of visitors   every year is good for Islands economic growth, but it should also benefit the community and atmosphere of this Paradise.

“I think tourists can immensely contribute by supporting local farmers, engaging in agro tourism because we need socially aware tourists and the Tourism developers and beneficiaries of this sector should fulfil their re-sponsibility towards Island and its communities.” Mr. anggir said.

“I want my fellow farmers to take action against the emerging threats to livelihood; don’t sell your land. Use methods or practices like SRI which will increase your income and your land will remain with you. Because developers  money will not last forever but your land will definitely ensure your prosperity forever”.

Though Pak anggir is leading Balinese farmer by not only inspiring them, he also encourages his fellow farmers to focus on land and its productivity. Others will join this movement by “seeing in believing”.

“As long you’ve passion, faith and willing to do work you can get anything you want in this life. Still a long way to go, my land is my passion and my passion empowers me to fight back” he said.


The author is a researcher at the Symbiosis School of International Studies, Pune, India.

(Disclaimer: The Profile feature article is based on the personal-interview. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author based on Interview and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Tri Hita Karana Bali.)