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Diocese urges self-reliance in food

Catholics must end their dependence on government subsidies

March 23, 2011

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A diocese in eastern Indonesia is urging Catholics to be self-reliant and not to rely on government food handouts. “We have agreed to increase awareness over food sovereignty,” said Father Rosarius Yansen Raring, head of Larantuka diocese’s social and economic commission. More and more farmers have neither seedlings to plant, nor something to market. As consequence, more people in the society rely on imports. “This is what the Church sees as a problem,” he said. The Church is also concerned with higher population growth, while there is less food production, resulting in a perpetuated dependence on imported food and rice subsidies from government, he said. The Church, he said, hopes to change it by building up a critical awareness of the situation as its  commitment of the people. Such an awareness "is crucial in Larantuka as people depend on government subsidies even for seedlings and fertilizers. They have completely lost power over themselves,” he said, pointing out that this was the focus of the bishop’s Lenten message. The bishop also called on the government to pay attention to agriculture and food production, the priest added. “The target is to accelerate the creation of policies on local government that will facilitate transformation in food development,” Fr Raring said. Larantuka diocese covers East Flores and Lembata districts. Government in the two districts allocate only 10 percent of its funds used to improve food production and supply. “There is a need for total transformation in this region. That is the meaning of Lent,” Fr Raring said. Diocesan reports show that 209,520 people out of total population of 229,918 in East Flores district face food problems and about 1,316 children under five years face malnutrition. In Lembata district the problem is relatively better with 36,185 people facing a food problem out of a population of 104,440. Out of 12,454 children under five years in Lembata, 2,075 face nutrition problems.

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