Subak is the irrigation organization in Bali that is managed by a unity of irrigation territorial in agronomy as the main aspect. The membership of the 'subak' are all the farmers who are lead by a 'kelian subak' ('pekaseh') and structurally beneath 'sedahan agung'.
'Subak' is also based on 'Tri Hita Karana' conception that is expressed in 'pura subak' (subak temple) irrigation territory and 'warga subak' (the subak members).
Bali's well-defined dry season makes irrigation necessary, but the island's mountainous nature makes it difficult. Since a farmer is unable to build and maintain elaborate irrigation systems, only through cooperation with neighbors have the Balinese become famed as Indonesia's most efficient rice-growers.
The 'subak' is a communal association consisting of growers, tenants, and sharecroppers who work adjacent holdings averaging 50-100 hectares. Acting as a sort of local "water board," this intra-village civil engineering organization's main function is to control the distribution of irrigation water and organize joint work projects to build and maintain dams, canals, tunnels, aqueducts, and water-locks.
In existence in Bali since at least AD 896, there are today around 1,200 of these irrigation cooperatives, each with several hundred members. All must abide by the same rules. Each member is allotted work in proportion to the amount of water she receives. A 'pekaseh' arbitrates any disputes.
All government programs to improve rice production are channeled through the 'subak' by a staff of field agents who live right in the main rice-growing areas.
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