Science, Tech & Environment

Indonesia's vanishing rice farms

Rice isn't just food but an important element of local culture here, but the paddies to grow it are rapidly disappearing. Couples on their honeymoon play at this hotel and they're blissfully unaware that the ground underneath them once grew rice. The Agriculture Ministry's figures show that in the past 30 years nearly 1.25 million acres of rice paddies have been lost to development. Now the country is forced to import rice from its neighbors. The Balinese Governor says there's not much he can do to stop the development. Rice is still grown here using complex irrigation methods and a centuries-old cooperation system. Each year the Balinese Tourism Board hands out more than $2,000 to each coop on the island in the hope of keeping them alive. In the past ten years, nine coops have been lost in the main tourism areas. Many Balinese are abandoning farming for better paying jobs in industry and tourism. This taxi driver says farming is a dying profession and the work is very hard and the pay is small. It's not surprising�farmers like this man spend long hours in muddy water bent over doubled. Farmers complain it's the middle men like traders who are making the profits.

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