Agriculture, particularly rice farming, is strongly linked to Bali’s social, cultural, and religious way of life. Subak, the water irrigation system on which the rice cycle is based, was introduced in Bali over a thousand years ago. As early as the 9th century, some inscriptions referred to irrigation water tunnels and canal builders that worked to supply the much-needed water throughout Bali from the mountain lakes. Over the centuries, these builders have honeycombed the island with their tunnels and terraces. This system, for the irrigation of rice fields, is the bedrock of Balinese agriculture and, by extension, Balinese life. A complex social system has evolved around temples, local rulers, and farming communities. Water temple priests who practice Tri Hita Karana Philosophy, a self-described balanced relationship between Humans, the Earth, and the Gods, are in charge of this traditional ecologically sustainable system. However, much of the traditional agricultural system, including the Subak, has shifted significantly since the Green Revolution. With intensive use of agrochemicals, the rice yield increased from 2 crops yearly to 3. However, that productivity has resulted in damage to the soil, the environment, and the wider ecological system, as well as pushing the farmers to be highly dependent on chemicals. The excess agrochemicals run into rivers and ultimately into the sea, destroying offshore corals. Steven Lansing, an American anthropologist, has studied this situation since 1985.
The Farming Program
The goal of Begawan’s farming program is to establish productive, regenerative agriculture in Bayad, Melinggih Kelod, Payangan, Gianyar, and Bali as a whole. We have three main objectives: to assist local farmers in making the shift to regenerative agriculture practices, to educate people about the importance of agriculture and how it can serve them better, and to work with farmers to produce quality agricultural products with a higher value and profit return. This farming program includes regenerative rice farming, organic gardens, livestock, poultry, aquaculture, beekeeping, butterfly & insect farming, vermiculture, and composting. The first project of the farming program at Begawan is rice cultivation within 5 plots of our local farmer’s rice fields, covering 42.90 Are. Our aim is to regenerate these fields, moving from conventional hybrid rice farming to the production of organic rice, using only natural fertilisers and pest controls. It is our goal to change one field at a time, one farmer at a time, to regenerative agriculture. As a commitment to the protection of local heritage food produce and food biodiversity, our local farmers only plant Balinese heritage rice.
Visit Begawan Farm and Rice Fields
Experience a stage in the process required for rice to journey from seed to table. Realise how much effort and knowledge are needed to produce every grain of rice. You will understand the know-how Balinese farmers have acquired over generations. The journey is nature-based, with authentic experiential sharing and learning with local farmers. Depending on the rice cycle, the farmer may be ploughing the rice fields with buffalo for the next crop, setting up seed nurseries, planting young shoots in the flooded fields, or even harvesting the ripened grains. The ducks, working as natural pesticides and fertilisers, may be eating worms and bugs in the rice fields. The crucial role that rice plays can be gauged by the religious importance, and the diversity and number of rituals, offerings, and temple ceremonies presented to Dewi Sri, the rice goddess, accompanying each stage of rice farming. It’s backbreaking work, and your experience out in the rice fields will give you a new appreciation of the grains you buy at home.