Indonesian church goes organic

Nuns, priests and a seminarian have joined a group of Catholic farmers in southern Java, Indonesia, to promote organic food crops and assist the farmers to commercialise their products.

UCA News reports that nine nuns, two priests and a seminarian joined organic farmers and spent the night in some of their houses for a program on improving the farmers' welfare.

Paguyuban Terobosan Baru (PTB, new breakthrough society), a group of Purwokerto diocese nuns and priests working for the poor, organised the program in Ringgit village of Ngombol, Purworejo district, 390 kilometres southeast of Jakarta.

Nine organic farmers from outside the village also took part in the program which includes discussions on ways to improve organic farmers' income and welfare, according to UCA News.

Fr Ignatius Dwidjokosuswanto, who promotes organic farming in Palembang diocese on Sumatra Island, west of Java, took part in the event along with Sr Triatmi and Fr Blasius Slamet Lasmunadi, a PTB coordinator.

Yohanes Martono, 58, an organic farmer from Brondong Rejo, a mission station of St Stephanus Church in Purwosari, told UCA News the program strengthened him as an organic farmer.

Having used organic methods for 10 years, he said he saves money "because I no longer buy seeds in the market, but put aside some of the good rice grains I harvest as seeds for the future."

Dominicus Sutirkam, 33, an organic farmer since 2004, also found encouragement in the program.

"After joining the live-in program, I promised to continue organic farming. If I stop, I will be more backward than the others, because the government also has launched a program called Go Organic 2010," he said.

Go Organic 2010 is a 10-year government program aimed at making Indonesia one of the world's top exporters of organic produce by 2010.

Organic farming in Ringgit is going well, according to Charity of the Precious Blood Sister Chrislinda Rusiana. Even pensioners retired from civil service help support their family by growing and selling organic produce, she said. The 47-year-old nun has been an organic farmer since 2004.

Concerns about marketing organic farm products came up during discussions. Supriadi shared that his group is facing difficulties in finding organic fertiliser and pesticides, as well as in product marketing.

"I knew nothing about marketing," he told fellow participants. "I give thanks to Sr Alfonsa Triatmi. She helped us understand some strategies."

Church Workers Join 'Live-in' Program On Organic Farming (UCA News, 2/5/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Ministry of Agriculture of Indonesia
Organic Federation of Australia
Organic food (Wikipedia) | Organic farming
Organic Living in Jakarta, Indonesia

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3 May 2007