Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Petani’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday, 21st February 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada
There is a question among the Balinese: what will happen to the island when the young Balinese decline to become farmers? Who will take care of the rice fields?
“Don’t worry, the bulés (westerners) will take care of our rice fields. They might become farmers here,” says I Made Tibah Klampit.
“What is he talking about? Is he suffered from dengue or something?” asks I Wayan Mundeh Kaliasem.
Made feels insulted. However there is a rule that when a member feels insulted in the warung, he is not allowed to be upset or express his anger by beating the table. What he has to do is to take a bottle of palm toddy and drink it in one go until finished.
“I’m serious with. I passed a group of tourists in the rice fields this morning.”
“I guessed that they went trekking to enjoy rice paddy views, so I tried to be a guide and explained to them about Balinese culture and about agricultural conditions in my village. I told them about subak, Tri Hita Karana, Tumpek Bubuh, Tumpek Kandang and nangluk merana. But it was all useless. I then realized that they knew everything about subak, Balinese traditions, etc. As a matter of fact, they just wanted to buy the land.
“I was getting excited because I thought that my village had become a tourism area. I will be rich and able to buy new car, television, fridge and go to restaurants. I was thinking about the profit I would get for being a broker.”
But Made failed to be a broker because the bules were not going to build villas, they were going to build organic farm instead. It’s a kind of agriculture system that doesn’t use chemical fertilizer, insecticide or pesticide. They would like the villagers to join them. The villagers can become labours.
“It has let me down. They don’t only do tourism business, but they also do farm business here,” says Made.
In hotel business, they are General Managers, but the Balinese are only staff, and in the farms, they are landlords, while the Balinese are just labours.
“When all of our lands are occupied to be hotels, and our rice fields belong to them, we might buy rice from the bulés.”
Made looks very sad. But it is a mystery whether he is sad from thinking about future Balinese agriculture sector condition or failing to be a broker.
Everyone looks worried from thinking that they will become labourers on their our island.