Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bali Loses its Farmers

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Farmland disappears at a quickening pace to villas, hotels, restaurants

Bali has lost 30,000 of its farmers in a single year as their fabled emerald terraced rice fields, are being plowed under to make way for villas, hotels and restaurants, according to a survey by the Bali branch of Indonesia's Central Statistics Agency. Some 643,029 farmers remain in the province, down from nearly 68,000, according to the agency's Bali director, Gde Suarsa.

Although critics have long warned that overwhelming growth was ruining an island that has long been cherished as one of the most exotic, spiritual and beautiful places on the planet, over recent months it has begun to appear that the pace of despoliation is picking up. Authorities at the Bali Development Planning Agency warned earlier this month that the island could experience a severe water shortage as early as 2015 if population growth continues unimpeded and groundwater is increasingly drawn from the underground aquifer.