Independence in the Time of a Pandemic

Independence in the Time of a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit economic activity in Indonesia in general, lowering income levels and also people’s welfare. One of the areas most affected by the pandemic is Bali Province, considering that the majority of activities are closely related to tourism and contact with outsiders. Bali’s economic growth rate in the first quarter of 2021 is minus 12.12% based on data from the Central Statistics Agency, which means there is a very significant decrease in the circulation of money and goods. This is common considering that the tourism sector is very vulnerable to external shocks. Call it the SARS pandemic in 2002, the first and second Bali Bombings, the eruption of Mount Agung, as well as the pandemics faced at the time this writing was written. Residents on Nusa Penida Island, which are relatively ‘new’, have experienced the positive impact of mass tourism .

The people of Nusa Penida are required to adapt in the midst of a pandemic, leave old habits and start innovating to survive. One example is to practice independent gardening in the yard of the house. Assisted by the IDEP Foundation (Selaras Alam) in the Ecologic Nusa Penida program, residents in the Batukandik Traditional Village gained an understanding of the practice of gardening flowers for ceremonies and also food plants for approximately two days. Residents not only received training in good gardening techniques, but also initial resources in the form of plants such as eggplant, tomatoes, leeks, lemongrass, lettuce, and various other types of vegetables. One of the beneficiaries of this program is Nyoman Indrawan, a resident of Batukandik Village. Nyoman felt very helped by this activity. If executed diligently, Nyoman can reduce expenses for the kitchen. In addition, he can also share experiences with neighbors in the Batukandik Village environment.

One of the important points of the activities carried out by Nyoman Indrawan and his friends from the IDEP Foundation is to provide an understanding to return to nature. This point is also the most difficult point because it has to change people’s mindsets that have been embedded for years. Under ideal conditions, the beneficiaries of this program can at least be independent at the household level. Thus, the external shock as previously mentioned will not have a significant impact on the livelihoods of the residents. If we can imagine, residents in Batukantik Village can use Subak Abian Kembang Lestari in the Village as a medium for transfer of knowledge, with a high level of social capital, it is hoped that all villagers will be able to apply existing techniques according to the capacity of their respective citizens. On a larger scale, villagers can use Village-Owned Enterprises (Bumdes) as a medium to find markets with a record that there is excess production from villagers. The ultimate goal is to be independent at the household level, as well as to be independent at the village level.

Agriculture is a very potential sector because no matter how fast the development of technology and industry is, this sector will never disappear. Villages that successfully adapt and seize these opportunities will be able to survive in the long term. The road to achieving self-reliance at the village level is still very far. But Nyoman Indrawan and the residents of Batukandik Village have at least succeeded in stepping on the first rung, with gardening as an independent solution during the pandemic.

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