The ecological transition in Bali




Foley, Sean

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This thesis focuses on agricultural and socioeconomic transformations in three villages in Kabupaten Gianyar, southern Bali. The analyses of changes occurring in village rice agriculture and family economics are set within the perspective of Human Ecology, and examine broadscale shifts in the natural and social ecological balance of the traditional island economy. Bali has a long-held reputation for its rice agriculture, social and religious organisation and artistic creativity. These features have been intensely affected by a range of externally initiated changes since the Dutch invasion at the turn of the century. Three main contemporary sources of change can be identified: government initiated development programmes, urbanisation and tourism. During the last 15 years the rate of modernising changes has accelerated. The Green Revolution has been promoted throughout the Third World, including Indonesia, as a simultaneous solution to both increasing staple food production and material welfare. Two metrics, energy and money, were used to examine the probity of development strategies based on Green Revolution technology. In contrast, detailed changes in village socioeconomics were examined by an analysis of patterns of income and expenditure, both within and between each of the three villages. The sustainability of Balinese agriculture has been transformed by the introduction of Green Revolution technology. This technology, at island-level, has led to substantial increases in total rice production, while radically decreasing the energy efficiency of production. This contrasts with increasing yield variability and dubious economic advantages for the individual farmer. In the socioeconomic sphere, modernisation of the island economy has led to increasing material inequality, even within relatively small village communities. Bali has moved from being a wholly self-provisioning, egalitarian and sustainable society, into one characterised by dependence on imports of essential goods and services, many of them non-renewable. The results of the analysis suggest that there are several ways in which the government, people and farmers of Bali can, by complementary 'reversals'of policy and practice, move towards a less energy intensive, more profitable and more sustainable pattern of village agriculture and economics.






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