Probably we have not seen a tagline that reads like the title of this article. ‘Becoming a farmers is so cool, has a bright future, a promising profession and not less cool than other profession.’ Before writing this short article, I was a moderator in the discussion held in Shankara Resto, Sanur. The theme of discussion was ‘Strategy to Save Paddy Fields in Bali.’
The speakers were Dr. Luh Kartini, Chairperson of the Bali Organic Association who is all this time actively campaigning the method of farming and consuming organic ingredients and Phyllis Kaplan, an environmental activist from New York, United States, claiming to have lived in Bali for about five years. As an activist of Rice Field Foundation, Kaplan then compared the farming in Bali to a small-scale farming she encountered in Vermont, a small state in the U.S. with a rustic ambience. The condition was hardly much different. However, the government had prominent role in assisting and protecting the farmers so they were pursuing their life comfortably and quietly as farmers. “In short, it is cool to be a farmer,” she said.
Well, the last expression or sentence made me get tingled. It’s cool to be a farmer, really? Perhaps, it just happens in the U.S. or in other countries where farmers are still subsidized, and protection of the government to farmers is very high. However, in Indonesia, especially Bali, I did try to question about the comparison to Mrs. Kaplan, but I did not really focus on it. I remained to focus on the campaign tag:”Becoming a Farmer Is So Cool.”
At this rate, we seem in two worlds. Firstly, it is in the world of dream and secondly in the real world. It is said a dream because, in fact, becoming a farmer in this country is really uncomfortable. Many factors cause it, ranging from the expensive fertilizer, expensive seed, pests, diseases and the dropped post-harvest price. A lot of burdens make our farmers remain a commoner. Even if there are successful farmers, they are only some few. How can it be cool if the condition is like this? Not to mention, the attitude of government is always looking for ‘breakthrough’ by taking import policy as short-term solution when it realizes the supply of agricultural products in the broad sense is not sufficient to meet the demand of the country. Yes, when the rice stock runs thin, it will be imported. Less meat supply and less soybean supply will be resolved by import policy. And so on.
Well, if we say that becoming a farmer is cool only happens in a dream. It’s in the air and a daydream. Therefore, it is no wonder if this work is only deeply involved by those who are old or at least those who have no other choice. Meanwhile, younger generation will try their fortune in other fields. They can work as employee of hotel, restaurant, civil servant, working on a cruise ship or other more promising profession.
Two figures of Ubud Palace, namely (late) Tjokorda Gde Sukawati and (late) Tjokorda Gde Agung…