Subak is a traditional agriculture group that organises irrigation affairs among Bali customary people. It is based on the Tri Hita Karana philosophy which is the concept of harmony for the Balinese. The concept is used to resolve agricultural matters to maintain harmony with God, fellow members, and nature. This made Subak unique and it is the only one in the world. In 2012 Subak was acknowledged as UNESCO tangible and intangible heritage.
However, along with world developments, tourism development in Bali is no longer considered as in line with the Subak preservation concept. The problems include Subak land conversion, degradation of Tri Hita Karana, and pragmatism among the youth who do not want to become farmers or to sustain Subak.
The problem triggered UGM students, Citra Cahya Adhieni, Akhmad Khanif and Rahmayanti to reveal the resilience of the Subak group in dealing with the tourism advancement in Bali. They researched into the matter in the Higher Learning Directorate General programme under the guidance of Drs. Pande Made Kutanegara, M.Si, Ph.D. Doing the research from 20 April - 3 May 2019 in Gianyar, Bali, the students involved 18 informants on Subak as well as village chiefs, museum managers, and related agencies.
Khanif announced the research outcome that Tri Hita Karana was still used by the Subak farmers ideologically, but practically there had been degradation. “There has been degradation in terms of harmony with nature. This is what made rampant sales of lands,” said Khanif on Monday (24/6). Khanif said a degradation of one value of Tri Hita karana would disrupt other values as they are interrelated. Dilemma also emerged.
Rahmayanti revealed there were four situations causing the dilemma, including high agricultural cost, tourism supporting infrastructure development, faith to practise one’s belief, and social drive. According to Rahmayanti, these hampered the people to do farming, hence land sales.
Windia, Subak expert, viewed that the government had yet to respond well to the problem. “I think there has been no government strategic policy to sustain Subak,” he said on Tuesday (21/6).
Citra added the government ought to issue a policy that involves Subak sustainability.