How One Indonesian Church is Fighting Food Insecurity

In the village of Kemadang, long dry spells threatened local farmers’ livelihoods until a church-led granary brought hope.

Standing in her rice field in the rural village of Kemadang along the southern coast of Java, 53-year-old Marni Mariani pointed to the dry soil at her feet. “This is the land that we will harvest in three weeks,” she said. Yet due to the lack of rain this season, two of her four rice fields have already failed.

She noted that she doesn’t sell the rice harvest from her plot, which measures 32 by 49 feet, but rather that the food is for her family to eat. “But sometimes if there is a famine and the harvest is small, we are forced to buy [rice] from outsiders,” she said. “That’s what burdens us here.”

Yet since 2020, Marni hasn’t needed to worry about buying rice at a high price. Her 70-year-old neighbor, Mbah Gepeng Harjo, also no longer struggles to buy the expensive seeds and fertilizer he needs to cultivate the rice fields that he tends to. (Mbah means “old man.”)

That’s because of an innovative church-run granary program created by local pastor Kristiono Riyadi of Kemadang Javanese Christian Church that seeks to maintain community food reserves, especially during times of drought. It provides a grain saving and loans program and a produce buyback program. It also sells seeds at an affordable price.

The granaries are a local solution to tackling food insecurity in Indonesia, a widespread problem facing nearly 1 out of every 10 Indonesians and that is only increasing as the climate becomes more unpredictable. The poverty rate in the regency of Gunungkidul, where Kemadeng is located, is about 16 percent, with about 6,000 families living in extreme poverty.

The church also sees their work as an outreach to share the love of God to the community by helping with …

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