The Karangasem regency government has slapped a preservation order on a large tranche of rice fields in an effort to save farmland from being converted to other uses.
Nyoman Siki Ngurah of the regency’s development planning office said that a total of 7000 hectares of agricultural land had been designated as a “green zone” and would be off-limits to developers. He said that the move would be part of a wider spatial plan for the regency.
Ngurah said that simply issuing the protected status would not be enough, and that the authorities would need to offer recompense to farmers and landowners to make it worth their while to save the land. He said that tax breaks and other financial incentives would be needed to encourage local people to see the value of retaining their fields for rice growing.
“The local administration must prepare various incentives, including property and land taxation, for farmers whose paddy fields are included in the green zone,” he said.
He added that the “green zone” plan was aimed at both preserving the environment and sustaining food production in Karangasem, currently one of Bali’s poorest and least developed regencies.
According to government statistics there is a total of 41,000 hectares of cultivated land in Karangasem, including 7000 hectares of irrigated rice land.