The story of a rice farmer somewhere in Bali

Rice Farmer 01 copy“I want to tell my Gods, it’s not fair”

Seventy five year old Pak Wayan Runia is a farmer who has been tiling the immaculately laid out terraced rice fields like his forefathers had done for hundreds of years. He lives with his wife, daughter, son in law and a grandchild in a modest dwelling. The daughter and her husband work part time for a workshop producing handicrafts.

Pak Wayan owns 20 Are of land cultivating rice and reaping two harvests a year. Each harvest, which is every six months, gives him 100 kg rice. Some of this he sells for approximately US 40 cents per kg if money is in short supply, which is quite often. The rest is for domestic consumption for a period of six months.

He pays US$ 5 per month for electricity, US$ 5 per month for water, US$ 8 Tax per annum, 6 kg rice from every harvest to the Subak (water authority), US$ 5 and US$ 2.5 for every major and minor religious ceremony respectively.

Free or subsidized medical aid and/or insurance are absent.

Pak Wayan has a fiscal deficit of US$ 40 every month as sometimes his daughter and son in law who work part time are laid off.

In return he gives the people of his homeland and tourists a free view of the world famous terraced rice fields of Bali. The reward? Commercial establishments mushrooming around his ‘work’, peddling the rice field views through the media, local and international, hotels selling rooms at a premium for the view he has created with great toil; Photographers, journalists, artists et al jumping on the bandwagon.

The local administration gives him US$ 25/- per year for the view.

Recently, a foreign movie crew filmed one whole night on his land after seeking his permission and promising to pay him. They have never returned nor paid him for trampling through the rice field.

Voices Today asked him if this was the great rip off and who should be contacted to seek justice for him.

“I want to tell my Gods, it’s not fair”, replied Pak Wayan and then turned his back and silently walked into the rice fields.