In a country where rice has been the staple food of a nation since the national rice program was introduced during the Suharto regime in the 1980s, Maria is striving to decrease the dependency towards rice and
replacing it with local crops that have higher nutrient content and are easier to grow in the dry lands of Eastern Indonesia.
Now the rice movement is no longer enforced and farmers are free to grow anything they want, Maria is working with local farmers to re-introduce long missing crops such as sorghum, red rice, black rice, jewawut (millet) and jelai (barley), which are more nutritious than rice. The low inputs that these local crops require are ideal for the dry land of Eastern Indonesia, and they can be harvested up to three times a year, unlike rice which can only be harvested once a year because of the soil conditions.
Maria believes that by maintaining local food diversity, island communities can be more resilient against inconsistent food
supplies from outside their regions
Goals and objectives
Together with the government Maria is starting a national movement for sorghum and other local alternative food. She is working to set up small farmers' organisations that are based on local self-sufficiency, knowledge sharing, mutual support and an inter-island knowledge sharing network.