Indonesia's vanishing rice farms
Rice paddies across Asia are being replaced by golf courses and luxury hotels and workers are leaving the fields.
Rice isn’t just food but an important element of local culture in Indonesia, but the paddies to grow it are rapidly disappearing. Couples on their honeymoon play at a hotel and they’re blissfully unaware that the ground underneath them once grew rice. "The World's" Rebecca Henschke reports on an endangered species - the rice farmers of Indonesia.
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.
A local taxi driver says farming is a dying profession and the work is very hard and the pay is small. It’s not surprising -- farmers spend long hours in muddy water bent over doubled. Farmers complain it’s the middle men like traders who are making the profits.PRI's "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston.