The existence of Subak as part of World Heritage by UNESCO is in danger of being revoked. Moreover, Its environment is also threatened due to ecological problems, such as land conversion, water exploitation, and soil degradation. In response to these problems, the Group of Pekaseh [leader] Subak Catur Angga held several meetings and decided to make a Working Group (Pokja) in early 2020. “Through this Working Group, we hope to produce an agreement based on our needs in the future,” said Ketut Suastika, Pekaseh Subak Catur Angga Working Group supervisor.
Despite Pekaseh’s efforts to maintain the sustainability of Subak and food sovereignty in Bali, some Subak still lacks attention from the government. Ketut Susatika admits that this work is not easy, he also regrets the limited support from the government, and it is not equitable. “There are three Subak that have not received assistance or support from the government, namely Subak Dalem, Subak Pancoran Sari, and Subak Bedugul. So hopefully, gentlemen [from the government] can deliver our input to policymakers,” asked Ketut Suastika.
Farmers in Subak Catur Angga often faced challenges, starting from production cost to the resulting harvest. According to Ketut Suastika, the price of urea and several production facilities (saprodi) has recently increased. “It seems that now the choice is to switch to something more eco-friendly. Subak Rejasa and Sri Gumana have proven from any aspect that the results and prices are better, especially it spend a few cost,” added Ketut Suastika.
Since the collaboration between Subak Catur Angga and IDEP Foundation started, there have been several changes in agricultural land management. This change departs from the challenges of the Subak in the past few years. IDEP comes with a permaculture spirit, vision, and mission to support the community in implementing eco-friendly and healthy agriculture (PSRL).
Subak in Catur Angga have experienced changes to a better form, especially Subak Rejasa and Sri Gumana. Both subak experimented on half of their land to implement eco-friendly and healthy agriculture. Those lands also become a learning medium for farmers and IDEP. Nengah Sutamaya–responsible for managing experimental land–admits that he had many benefits after trying to implement PSRL. First, he doesn’t need to buy production inputs–such as agro-chemical–because starting by manufacturing fertilizers. Other ingredients can be obtained locally. “There is a different process between conventional farming and PSRL, as usual when using fungicides, only twice for picking weeds. But without it, it could be three times,” said Nengah Sutamaya.
Nengah Sutamaya also felt expense relief in production costs. Since receiving training and assistance from IDEP about producing liquid organic fertilizer (POC), he no longer needs to buy fertilizer. “It began when I changed the soil tillage system, I saw many worms appear in my field, and it means soil become healthier,” said a farmer called Pak Cip. He added, “results from harvesting also increase. Previously it was 250 kg. Now, we can get 445 kg with 5 acres of land.”
Some farmers and all Pekaseh Subak Catur Angga became interested in implementing PSRL after hearing and seeing Nengah Sutamaya’s experience. Pekaseh also held several meetings, recently held on April 8, 2022. This meeting was also IDEP’s effort to share about organizational forms that support Subak’s works. “Today, I want to discuss with Jro Pekaseh regarding organizational strengthening,” said Sayu Komang, the trainer from IDEP Foundation.
After hearing about the process of implementing PSLR from Nengah Sutamaya, Sayu Komang expressed his pride because of the farmers’ spirit and enthusiasm. “Furthermore, we can jointly expand this demonstration plot because it will automatically reduce farmers’ expenses when implementing PSRL,” added Sayu in Subak Catur Angga Organizational training.
Based on IDEP and farmers’ observations and experience from two previous demonstration plots, several aspects support farmers regarding social, economic, environmental, and health aspects. Farmers no longer need to buy urea because they can make fertilizer directly with local ingredients. Then no longer use pesticides because they can make natural pesticides from local ingredients. “Apart from spending a lot of money, pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides can impact our health. Besides pests can die, we also can slowly die,” said Sayu.
Through PSRL, our environment becomes healthier too. This fact is evidenced by the appearance of worms in paddy fields, indicating soil ecosystems’ existence. In addition, this stable agricultural condition also helps Bali realize food sovereignty and meet the community’s basic needs. Then, cooperation and interaction emerged between farmers when they started to share about the PSRL system for the sustainability of subak and their sources of income. “Hopefully, there will be more Subak and Jro Pekaseh who are interested in making demonstration plots in their subak,” Sayu hoped before closing the training session. (Gd)