[114] Tetebatu, Rice is Life

From the beach I go land inwards, to the centre of Lombok, and the symbol of the island: the Mount Rinjani, the second biggest volcano of Indonesia.

Yet, this time I won’t reach the top of the volcano, but I will stay well below it, admiring its massiveness from the bottom up, out of the beautiful greenery of Tetebatu.

The journey starts in the morning after a 2-hour scooter drive out of Lombok, including flat tyre, so we are too late. Too late to see Mount Rinjani, since he only unveils himself early in the morning. Every morning, as I will notice the next days, around 10am he hides himself in clouds.

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It’s a rainy day

The clouds will build up during the day, and when the night falls, so will the rain. Which results in the beautiful greenery, the fertile soils and filled rice paddies. The daily, or let’s say nightly rain, makes of Tetebatu the beautiful fertile agricultural village I am walking through nowadays.

From rice paddy to rice paddy, and sometimes interrupted by another crop, such as cassava, or onions. In addition, sometimes after the rice season some farmers may convert the rice paddies in tobacco fields, this time there is more rice than anything else. We are in the middle of the rice season.

From baby to beauty

There is baby rice with the kind of bright green that symbolises new life, there are the separated and just planted rice sticks who look weak and lonely in the middle of the field. Yet another rice paddy shows how they will take over the entire field in but a couple of weeks. Growing until another kind of green, a stronger kind of plant. And then, after all the varieties of green, there are the gold and heavy rice plants who are standing on dry soil, waiting for their farmers to be harvested.

Every rice paddy is from another owner, and hence is in another phase of the process. It is beautiful to see them all, as if I am walking in a comic book showing me the story of the rice. Luckily, I have a good guide with me who tells me their story as if it was his own story, otherwise I would be blind and mute, missing the real beauty of the scenery.

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Variety – Resilience

What I probably like the most about the agricultural scenery in Tetebatu is the variety. The fact that there is not only rice but all the others as well. The local guy say they never face drought, thanks to the clouds captured by Mount Rinjani. Yet, with climate change we can never know, and diversification will always be a smart resilience strategy. Expect the unexpected, not?

Hence, the communities of Lombok have rice in all their different growing phases, while they have other crops as well. And in addition to the fields, there is coffee, cacao, there are nuts, musk nut, there are fruits, and many other treasures of nature, making them independent and resilient in some way. Because, as the guy earlier on in Lombok summarised: ‘In Lombok, life is rice and rice is life.’

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