Transition of agroecology in Bali, Indonesia : what are the main barriers and opportunities for small-scale farmers to scale-up agroecology in central Bali?

University essay from SLU/Department of Biosystems and Technology (from 130101)

Abstract: Since the late 1960’s, the Green Revolution introduced high yielding varieties in association with agrochemicals to address increasing food demands across Southeast Asia. Indonesian government extended these “technological packages” through political incentives replacing traditional farming methods to stimulate agricultural productivity and economic growth. Besides contributing to Indonesian economic development and reducing food insecurity, the adoption of those technological packages led to many negative externalities, such as soil degradation, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, destruction of natural habitat, increased dependence on artificial inputs and non-renewable resources, and more importantly loss of local control over agricultural production. Different farming approaches internalizing socio-ecological aspects of food production have increasingly been recognized by the FAO as better alternatives. Agroecology is a transdisciplinary farming approach, bridging social, biological and agricultural sciences while including traditional farmers’ knowledge. Despite extensive evidence in favor of agroecology, the various interests of actors of the agrifood system hinders its large adoption. Although small-scale farmers (>2ha) represent the majority of the world’s food production, their influence on the production system is limited. The island of Bali represents an accelerated version of a global problem: increasing pressure on limited land-based resources along with liberal policies. Rapid urbanization due to mass tourism is causing 1000 ha of arable land to disappear every year and heightening water shortages, crippling Balinese centuryold food sovereignty. This thesis explored through an agroecological lens the multiple challenges Balinese farmers are facing in the transition to agroecology. An important factor identified was the loss of traditional farming knowledge as younger generations were abandoning farming activities because of low profitability. Furthermore, inadequate political support and enforcement have been reported to hinder the development of sustainable agriculture in Bali. The study also identified that growing awareness, a good access to markets and how social networks to spread sustainable farming techniques can potentially make farming more attractive and viable. Policies that will better adapt to Balinese context from small-scale farmers’ perspectives were also shared and discussed.

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