Maria Loretha, Founder of Yayasan Cinta Alam Pertanian Indonesia
The Idea & Strategy
Maria Loretha is striving to decrease the dependency towards rice and replacing it with local crops that have higher nutrient content and which are better suited to the environment of Indonesia. In 2007 she started to grow sorghum at her farm, an unpopular cereal at that time. Maria started handing out the seeds for free to the farmers, teaching them how to tend to and harvest the crops. She also approached other women teaching them not only how to farm crops, but also how to make food our of these crops. She is empowergin small farmer groups to recover and disseminate knowledge about the local seeds, thus turning the farmers into innovators.
Having succeeded locally with small pilot projects, she is now reaching a wider group of peple to create a grassroots local foos movement to change farming across Indonesia. She has now over 1,000 farmers in her farmer groups and is transforming the perception of sorghum agriculture widely across the country. Today, the ministry of agriculture recognises that sorghum has mor nutrients than rice and starts teaching programmes for smallholder farmers. Large national companies are now considering sorghum crops in their programs.
Together with the government, Maria is starting a national movement of small farmers' organisation to cultivate sorghum and other nutrient rich crops. These farmer organisations work together on the basis of local self-sufficiency, knowledge sharing, mutual support and inter-island experience sharing network. Her model is in the process of being replicated in Europe by two engineers from the Netherlands studying about sorhum's benefits. NGOs in the Phillippines and the USA are learning more about the model.