NUSA LEMBONGAN, Indonesia — Earlier than the coronavirus pandemic took its grip on Indonesia, the pristine seashores of Lembongan island lapped by the Indian Ocean had been dotted with sunbathing vacationers from throughout the globe.
Now, with many guests gone and the financial system in tatters, locals are sometimes seen carrying baskets laden with seaweed up the shore amid a shift again to former methods of constructing a dwelling.
“I really feel unhappy as a result of we misplaced our jobs and now now we have to begin from scratch,” stated I Gede Darma Putra, 43, a local of Lembongan, who used to information vacationers as a dive grasp.
Like many locals on this speck of an island about 50 kilometers off Bali, he and his spouse Kadek Kristiani now wade by means of pristine waters to assemble seaweed rising on strains.
Bali usually attracts tens of millions of tourists a 12 months, many attracted by seashores in spots like Lembongan, however plans to reopen to overseas vacationers have been postponed indefinitely attributable to climbing COVID-19 circumstances in Indonesia.
With many eating places and bars shut on the island, drying seaweed fills the streets as tourism employees return to an trade that died down a decade in the past, regardless of Indonesia’s standing because the world’s second-biggest seaweed producer behind China.
“Farmers are beginning to plant seaweed once more,” stated Boedi Sarkana Julianto of Indonesia’s Pure Sources Community (JASUDA), a seaweed farming non-governmental group.
“At first I used to be confused, questioning, ‘what ought to I do?’,” stated Ms. Kadek, 34. “However alongside the best way we discovered this work, planting seaweed… and earned some earnings to purchase meals and issues for our youngsters.”
Wali Putra, a 50-year-old restaurant supervisor who has been farming seaweed most of his life, stated the pandemic reminded him of his childhood.
“Earlier than the tourism increase … what gave life to the Lembongan folks was seaweed,” he stated.
Nonetheless, seaweed farming is laborious work and fewer profitable than tourism, significantly because the pandemic has lowered demand.
Farmers say the dried seaweed, destined for processing and to be exported to be used in meals, at present fetches round 12,000 rupiah (80 US cents) per kilo, offering an earnings of as much as $400 a month. That’s simply over half of what the identical haul would have introduced earlier than the pandemic, JASUDA’s Mr. Boedi estimated.
I Putu Astawa, head of the Bali Tourism Board, stated guests had been nonetheless wanted as a result of “agriculture alone couldn’t get Bali’s financial system again to regular”.
However some locals, like instructor and seaweed farmer Wayan Ujiana, 51, are taking the pandemic as a lesson to not rely an excessive amount of on tourism: “Don’t neglect to diversify your earnings, so when issues occur we don’t collapse.” — Nyimas Laula and Sultan Anshori/Reuters