Bali, 15 June – Last weekend, young people from the northern part of Bali, specifically from Bali Aga in Buleleng Regency, headed to the south. They are a small part of the people who got the opportunity from the Responsive Innovation Fund (RIF) program as main drivers for rural development.
The road trip which took about 60 kilometers or approximately 2 hours was not just an ordinary visit. Last Saturday was a very memorable day for Bali Aga people as they were able showcasing their bamboo weavings in a one day exhibition in Sayan Village, Ubud District.
The Bali Aga area that received assistance from RIF program comprises of five villages – Sidetapa, Cempaga, Tigawasa, Pedawa, and Banyusri. Many do not know that Bali Aga is known as the Bali’s first settlers. With a strong historical profile, the people of Bali Aga, especially in Tigawasa and Sidetapa Village, make bamboo weavings an ancestral heritage that must be preserved.
“I have been weaving bamboo since I was little, my parents taught me. Not only men, women in Tigawasa Village are also required to be able to weave bamboo before they get married because these skills can later help their husbands to earn a living. Women usually make the webbing while men make the frames and do the sanding.”
That’s the short story told by Pak Indrayana as one of the bamboo artisans from Tigawasa Village. Pak Indra and other artisans from Tigawasa Village and Sidetapa Village have received training from the third phase of the RIF program to improve weaving skills. He mentioned that the bamboo weaving products he produced after the training were very different from the ones he made before.
“Prior to RIF training, I only used one size of sandpaper to refine the bamboo. However, I was taught to use several different sizes of sandpaper during the training from RIF. After I tried, the result was much smoother and neater,” he explained.
Pak Indra’s bamboo weaving products have a high appeal for local and foreign visitors. He provides several different models and sizes by taking into account the functionality of the product. For instance, buyer can request a writing that can be added on the basket bag.
Unlike Tigawasa Village, bamboo weaving from Sidetapa Village has its own uniqueness. The bamboo weaving of Tigawasa Village usually has a wider weaving cavity with different themes.
Previously, Bali Aga weaving bamboo was only sold in Buleleng Regency through offline marketing, which has limited reach. The Covid-19 pandemic also had an impact to their sales so that their income decreased drastically. Bali Aga weaving bamboo is considered necessary to create a new model that can compete in a wider market. The RIF program funded by the Government of Canada through NSLIC/NSELRED project assists Joint Village-owned Enterprises (BumdesMa) of Bali Aga in improving the quality of weaving and design, strengthening institutions in rural areas and teaching digital marketing techniques. Bali Aga now has an Instagram and Tokopedia account under the name of Bambu Bali Aga. Although Instagram and Tokopedia are still managed by the RIF program, Pak Ketut Kusuma as the Head of BumdesMa has prepared a digital marketing unit to manage these accounts after the RIF program conclude this year.
It was the first time for Bali Aga selling products outside Buleleng Regency through an exhibition. They were pleased to interact with local and foreign visitors. The products sold were quite diverse, and there were some buyers who place orders to be sent later due to limited stock at the exhibition. This exhibition was even more exciting with traditional games for children and weaving training for adults.
Apart from bamboo weaving, they also sold several other products from the result of RIF’s intervention, such as palm sugar from Pedawa Village. They displayed some artistic photographs as a result of training from RIF program in order to show their identity to the public.
This event lasted until the evening. Two female dancers from Bali Aga showed off the beauty of their dance. The event ended with a story about the history of Bali Aga which attracted the attention of visitors.