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Sawah Bali's First Official Press Release!

The habitat of the Javanese Kingfisher is in the sawah.

Yayasan Konservasi Sawah Bali, an Indonesian non-profit formed in 2013 to conserve Bali’s rice paddies (sawah), increase the income and health of farmers, and maintain Bali’s rice culture in the face of over-development and threatening water shortages, is announcing the launch of an historic Pilot Project.

The land use tool that Sawah Bali will introduce is one utilized successfully for over 40 years in the U.S. to conserve farms. Sawah Bali will replicate the Vermont Land Trust concept to keep the working landscape productive with best use practices for managing threatened natural resources with competing purposes. By conserving the farmland and canal system, the water's usage will be prioritized for subak, sawah, food production, security and sacredness.

Drawing of Dewi Sri (Goddess of Rice and Fertility) by Wayan Purna of Ubud

The first central concept for land conservation is to offer financial compensation to land owning farmers with annuity payments to continue farming the land. In exchange, the landowner will rescind their right to sell their sawah for building development in perpetuity. The landowner/farmer retains 100% ownership of their land and may either sell it to another farmer or pass it down to their heirs.

The second concept evolved because protection of the land was not enough to raise a farmer’s standard of living. Economic development is equally important for the present and to safeguard that future generations enter into farming. The transition to organic methods through permaculture technologies and integrated pest management are part of the project. Heritage rice varieties will replace the modern hybrid rice to ensure greater nutrition and bring higher prices at market. Other crops that are compatible with soils and habitat will offer an alternative to mono cropping which is essential in this era of climate change and shifting markets. These diverse crops will add nutrition to the farmers’ and their family’s diets. Sawah Bali will provide a supply chain so that locally grown organic surplus will be sold at premium prices, increasing the income for farming families. Value added products may also be created. Yayasan IDEP, a partner with Sawah Bali, will be providing social and soil assessments and sustained technical assistance for all farmers to undergo transition to permaculture methods and assure individual and collective success.

The Pilot Project is located in Subak Malung Bulu Jauk, comprised of the villages of Bunutan and Tanggayuda (10k from Ubud- Gianyar, Bali). Its 135 members have unanimously voted to become the first subak in Bali to participate with their subak rice farm irrigation district.

ByuKukung ceremony in Bunutan: for "pregnant" rice to ask for fertility/great yield

With respect toward the culture, religion and law of Bali, Sawah Bali is working with the Pekaseh (leader) of Subak Malung as well as Adat and Dinas (cultural and administrative leaders) of both villages.

The team of Sawah Bali went to Pura Ulan Danu Batur, the Supreme Water Temple in Kintamani to visit High Priest, Jero Gede, to discuss the mission of Sawah Bali and the ethics and philosophy of Tri Hita Karana - the sacred relationship with God, community and the environment. Sawah Bali was honored to receive Jero Gede’s blessing and support.Sawah Bali is committed to this crucial work in response to the water scarcity issues that plague Bali and to support the mandate issued with the UNESCO World Heritage Sites (WHS) designations (2012) of subak sites that must be protected by Bali. Sawah Bali is working closely with the Coordination Forum (previously known as the Governing Assembly), the body charged to develop and implement a strategic plan of protection for WHS on Bali.

With this Pilot Project , Sawah Bali intends to provide the governments of Bali a precedent of success as a working model of conservation for all 1,500 subaks in Bali. Indonesian partnerships include: The Bupati of Gianyar regency, Yayasan Bhumi Banten, Yayasan IDEP, musician/activist Robi Navicula, Udayana University professors Wiwik Darmisiah, Dr. Wayan Windia, Dr. Luh Kartini (BOA), consultants Starling Resources and Rita Dewi of Red Lotus Properties. USA partnerships include Vermont Land Trust, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and The Farm Viability Program.

Farmers and leaders from Bunutan, Tanggayuda, Pekaseh of Subak Malung and the Sawah Bali Team!

A special thanks to Donald Campbell from the Vermont Land Trust for a treasure trove of data as well as the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Farm Viability Program who supplied valuable data for Balinese officials to understand the complicated mechanics of land conservation.

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