A Unique Agrotourism Experience in the World: Observing and Experiencing the Dayak People Farming in Kalimantan

The traditional Dayak people in Kalimantan are harvesting rice in a healthy organic field. You can plan agrotourism to witness and experience it.

By Rangkaya Bada

This single word, upon reflection, seems to be the most fitting term to describe what you can witness and experience when you visit Kalimantan, where you can observe the native inhabitants of Borneo practicing farming. 

Farming in the era of Industry 5.0? Does it still exist? Yes, it's still very much alive in Kalimantan. 

There are regulations in the form of Governor's Regulations already in place. 

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To ensure that the people who practice farming, the Dayak's organic farming system, remains a local wisdom, you can follow one of the 10 stages of Dayak rice and crops cultivation in Kalimantan, and rest assured, this is an unparalleled experience. 

So, when embarking on a journey or adventure to Borneo, make sure you participate in and experience how the Dayak people farm, which is not just about rice and crops cultivation; it encompasses elements of art, culture, and community cooperation within the Dayak farming system. 

Sometimes, outsiders may have misconceptions or intentionally construct a "post-truth" narrative accusing the Dayak people of harming the environment through farming. However, if you truly understand it, that's not the case at all!

Regarding the issue of haze, Kalimantan has achieved significant progress over the past three years. There have been no reports of serious haze issues, indicating that Dayak farmers are practicing responsible farming systems in line with local wisdom. 

This also demonstrates that traditional farming practices, conducted with wisdom, have helped reduce the risk of haze often associated with uncontrolled forest burning.

In West Kalimantan, efforts to regulate the farming system have taken the form of the Governor's Regulation on Farming. This reflects the local government's commitment to supporting sustainable farming practices and aligning them with principles of sustainability and environmental protection. This step also provides a clearer legal framework for farmers to carry out their practices.

Farming, accompanied by traditional knowledge and local wisdom, is not a crime. Therefore, imposing a ban is not appropriate. On the contrary, isn't the prohibition (burning) of fields itself not an illegal act?

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Furthermore, this ban often blurs the line between field clearing and fires, as well as land destruction that frequently occurs in corporate concessions and has caused serious peatland damage. 

The Dayak people create ditches at the boundaries of their farmland to prevent the fire from spreading beyond, and they diligently watch over them. This is the traditional wisdom of the Dayak.

Before burning fields, not land, the Dayak people first prepare preventively using traditional methods to extinguish potentially spreading fires.

Outsiders may have misconceptions or intentionally construct a "post-truth" narrative accusing the Dayak people of harming the environment through farming. However, if you truly understand it, that's not the case at all!

Farming, also known as Bauma Tahutn, Bauma, Boruma, Bahuma in the Dayak community in Kalimantan, is not as straightforward as it is often considered by some parties to be the main cause of smoke-related issues. 

Farming activities have been passed down through generations and have become a part of the Dayak community's way of life. Managed with traditional knowledge and local wisdom, a cautious approach as part of anticipation and knowledge of how to do it has been in place for some time. Long before there were advisories or prohibitions, anticipatory measures had been a part of their community.

Overall, through a wise and responsible approach, the Dayak community in Kalimantan has demonstrated how their traditional farming system remains relevant and positively impacts the environment and their own well-being.

Even young children eagerly assist their parents in ensuring that the fire does not spread beyond the farmland. Credit photos: Hendrikus Adam.

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With regulations and community awareness, farming practices can continue to be preserved and improved to contribute to the balance of nature and environmental sustainability.

The 10 stages of the Dayak community's farming system are as follows:

  1. Land inspection,
  2. Determining the land's size,
  3. Cleaning tools and equipment,
  4. Logging,
  5. Land clearance,
  6. Land burning,
  7. Planting,
  8. Caring for the crops,
  9. Harvesting, and
  10. Thanksgiving Ceremony (Begawai).

The entire series of this farming system reflects their culture. The fact is that this farming system is often misunderstood and poorly understood by those outside the Dayak community. This is due to a lack of comprehensive research and publications that have discussed these farming practices over the centuries.

However, now the Dayak sub-ethnic groups are literate. They have the intelligence to address issues and overcome obstacles in their daily lives. For example, the rejection and demands for the release of Dayak farmers in Sintang who were punished show that the Dayak people know what they want. 

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