Tourism and Land Grabbing in Bali A Research Brief - January 2018
The island of Bali is home to a rich and unique system of agriculture, based around traditional water management systems developed over the last 1200 years. However, growing pressure from the expansion of the tourist trade as well as the effects of climate change are putting these systems at risk. Farmers are fighting to preserve their livelihoods and maintain a base for local food sovereignty in Bali, but significant changes to policy and practice are needed to protect their rights to land, water, and seed.
This research brief is the outcome of original fieldwork conducted between September 2015 and June 2016 across three different locations in Bali, Indonesia. The brief synthesises some of the key research findings with the aim of providing a deeper look into the impact of tourism on agricultural systems, food security, food sovereignty and rural development in Bali. It finds that the massive investment in the tourist industry – which is championed by Balinese policymakers as a driver of economic development and prosperity – has often come at the expense of agricultural livelihoods.
In particular, research interviews with farmers and agricultural communities revealed concerns related to the impact of tourism on:
- Local land tenure systems and traditional farming practices.
- Management of water resources and adaptation to climate change.
- Protection of native seed varieties and cultural heritage.
The brief ends with a series of recommendations addressed to the relevant provincial and national authorities to address some of the issues raised. It argues for a fundamental reorientation away from the whole- sale promotion of the tourist industry towards a more balanced approach which offers support and prospects for Bali’s farming communities. In this sense, the research brief is of interest to all those who are grappling with the consequences of uneven and contested development, ethical tourism, and the tension between welcoming foreign visitors and protecting indigenous culture, practices, and environments.