Tourism and agriculture ‘should be linked’

by Wasti Atmodjo on 2013-03-20

Bali needs real synergy between the tourism and agriculture sectors to maintain its sustainability, experts have said.

Wayan Windia, a professor with Udayana University’s School of Agriculture, said that the two sectors had yet to be well connected. Although tourism is the main economic driver in Bali, it would not be able to develop further without being supported by the island’s agriculture.

He regretted that the agriculture sector now tended to be neglected by tourism practitioners and the local government, resulting in massive rice field conversion to make way for new accommodation and other tourist facilities. Local farmers and their families failed to benefit from the fast growing tourism.

“For Bali’s development in the future, we need real synergy between tourism and agriculture,” Windia emphasized, expressing his hope that the development of community-based tourism would benefit farmers and their families.

He also called on the local government to implement more programs to enhance the agriculture sector, including allocating tax revenue from tourism businesses to improve the island’s agriculture.

Ni LuhKartini of the Bali Organic Association (BOA) also regretted the unwillingness of tourist businesses to use local products.

“Indeed, local products lack high quality and continuity of supply, but the tourist industry could assist farmers by helping them market their products,” Kartini said.

Tourism practitioner AgungPrana shared similar views. He said that one of his community-based tourism accommodation facilities in Tabanan always saw lots of visitors thanks to being located overlooking well-preserved farmland and with local traditions still strong.

“If we fail to build synergy, the rice fields in front of our villas could be converted into buildings. We should also be able to maintain good communication with the local people, especially for customary related issues,” he said.

Besides deploying local people and allocating revenue for corporate social responsibility programs, the management of his businesses during the last couple of years has offered a cooperation scheme with local farmers, especially those whose fields were located near the villas.

The management have built villas on vacant landor redeveloped houses, offering choices to the land or house owners so they could build the villas with their own money, or with financial support from the business, or under a fund-sharing scheme.

The owners were then assisted to improve their hospitality skills, so that they could manage the accommodation and earn revenue.

“Now, we already have dozens of villas built with such a concept. The guests were happy to stay there, and the owners get the profits directly,” Prana said.

Recently, Wayan Wimbara and his family, who built an agriculture tourism site in Tegalalang, Gianyar regency, shared that he usually donated rice to farmers whose fields served as a view for guests.

“We give them rice every harvest season. We also maintain communication with them,” he said.

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