2021 was a busy and productive year for our exciting farm-to-table project in Bali. As we transition from one year to the next, let’s reflect on the uplifting story of our Manggis site with a look ahead to all that’s in store for 2022.
Back in February, we announced a new project to support the local farmers of Manggis, Bali. Our relationship with the village was borne from a need to fix an irrigation issue – a significant problem for the village’s rice-farming community. Discova partnered with local organic farming experts, Bali Rare Paduraska (BRP), to fix the initial irrigation issue and educate farmers on organic and sustainable farming techniques to diversify their crops.
This was the beginning of a blossoming, mutually beneficial relationship for all parties.
Fast forward a few months, in June, and we checked in with the project to update on the latest developments. The organic rice farming programme was full steam ahead, with classes taking place and the first harvest on the horizon.
The extra-pleasing element of the progress was that Manggis’ women, traditionally taking on secondary roles within village and farming life, had also begun an organic vegetable-planting initiative. This project was undertaken with the help of KWT Bakung Asri, a foundation that advocates for female empowerment within Balinese communities, encouraging women to take on leading roles in village life.
Read the first two instalments of the Manggis story below:
As we progressed into the second half of 2021, several exciting further developments took place in Manggis.
In late summer, Manggis saw the first successful harvest of its organic rice. Over a period of a few weeks, government regulators and officials came to certify the crop before also approving our brand name and packaging.
The Manggis farmers are now the proud sellers of ‘Sri Bakung’ – government-certified, locally-grown organic rice.
As part of the legal accreditation of the crop as a viable product, the government essentially endorsed the organic rice. The villagers can now distribute the rice legally into the local market.
This is where our partnership reaps benefits for the villagers; Discova can leverage our own relationships with local suppliers and hotels to provide willing buyers, thus supporting a farm-to-table supply chain.
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… seven goats of Manggis!
December welcomed seven cute little guests into the village, causing a stir within the community. Besides the innate pleasure we all get from admiring the charming little creatures, the arrival of these goats is indicative of broader significant development.
These happy little inhabitants provide the village with much-needed natural fertiliser. Fertiliser is in high demand in Manggis thanks to the burgeoning greenhouse of vegetables that the women have started, in conjunction with Discova and KWT. The village is growing organic courgettes, aubergines, and other products to be sold locally and further afield.
The goats were welcomed with a traditional Balinese ceremony marking the occasion. The celebrations prayed for the goats’ wellbeing and prosperity, reflecting the importance of these animals to the endeavours of the farming community and the fortunes of the village.
The village of Manggis is set within an idyllic, natural East Balinese environment. Lush green rice terraces, a volcanic hillside as a backdrop, and an abundance of sub-tropical vegetation. Unsurprising, then, that there is no shortage of coconut trees within the village. This area is, in fact, known throughout Bali for its exceptionally delicious coconuts.
As part of Discova’s ongoing commitment to helping the community develop more sustainable revenue streams, we recently supplied Manggis with a virgin coconut oil machine.
This is itself an element of the broader aim to provide more roles for the community’s women, who can now take part in transforming some of the village’s many coconuts into lucrative coconut oil.
Relatively simple to operate, this capital investment will allow for a profitable small-scale enterprise that can employ several female villagers in a commercial workshop. The virgin coconut oil machine arrived the same weekend as the goats, and, just like the hairy little helpers, it’s already in operation in the village.
Our projects are always founded upon the premise that relationships are formed with a win-win-win scenario in mind. This means that all parties are supposed to benefit from partnerships – the community, travellers, and, ultimately, we include ourselves in the list of hopeful benefactors.
We seek to empower local communities and support sustainable enterprises, but we also hope to build enticing innovative products to offer an ever-increasing range of experiences to incoming travellers, hence the emphasis on a reciprocal relationship.
With this background in mind, education within the community is imperative. Community members must be educated in tourism principles to offer the expected high standards to visitors – the potential income is entirely dependent upon the skills and welcoming nature of the host community.
The wholesome villagers need no lessons in giving a warm welcome to satisfy the hospitality element.
However, since the start of 2021, we have worked with local groups and the villagers themselves to develop more tourism activities in Manggis. These educational initiatives have involved teaching the community how to become educators in their own right, guiding visitors through cooking classes, winemaking, canang-making, and other traditional local processes.
The word ‘guiding’ is especially apt since villagers also need to learn the basics of guide work to take travellers on trekking and cycling activities.
We expect Discova guides to develop meaningful connections with visitors, taking them on a journey of discovery that leaves a lasting memory. To ensure this happens, skills need to be developed over time alongside a need to establish the required English language skills.
Over and above these lessons, new skills have been learned, such as the ability to provide signature teamaking and reflexology workshops, providing a greater range of potential tourism activities.
As part of an ongoing process, many younger community members have engaged in classes to prepare for incoming visitors, developing those valuable skills as well as the necessary business acumen to maximise profit.
In the final months of the year, a vision for Manggis’ future as a centre for tourism activities came into focus.
It became clear that the farming community was eager and willing to develop itself as a tourist destination. The villagers actively sought our help in generating inquiries and converting their ideas into a commercially viable business plan.
We have big plans for the community.
We want to drive tourists to this beautiful destination to provide a serene setting as a base for exploration of the East Bali countryside.
We also want to showcase the village as a centre for discovering local Indonesian life, to provide a window into what it means to be Balinese, and to educate visitors on sustainable farming techniques.
Hence the emphasis on education for the villagers throughout 2021 – it’s all preparation for a thrilling 2022 for the community.
We have put together a fantastic range of experiences for visitors to enjoy, hopefully from Q3 in 2022. To further hit home the concept of a base for exploration, we are also in the process of establishing a tented camp on-site for travellers.
These tents will provide comfortable, cosy accommodation in this beautiful hillside location with an ocean view, offering a wholesome base just a short journey away from the village. This will serve as an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding countryside.
Stay tuned for updates regarding this fantastic concept soon but check out the video below for a snapshot teaser into some of the activities that will be available at our Manggis location.
We at Discova are tremendously excited about all the developments in Manggis, from the celebration of sustainable tourism to the empowerment of local villagers. We also can’t wait to share further details regarding the tourism activities available to travellers in Manggis in 2022. We’re also excited that this may be a blueprint for projects that we can replicate elsewhere.
As always, we’ll keep you informed of any news relating to the Manggis project regularly.
However, if you are curious to hear more about the community, the principles underpinning our work there, or the timeline going forward, then feel free to reach out to our teams.
Connecting people and places with a world of possibilities
2022 Discova. All rights reserved.