A priest from Atambua diocese in Belu district, eastern Indonesia, has called on local authorities to provide more assistance for struggling farmers in the area. “It is important the government increases its support for farmers,” Father Agustinus Berek, head of North Belu deanery told a gathering on April 4. About 70 village and sub-district heads, military and police officers, as well as Church leaders attended the meeting in Atapupu to discuss how the Church and government can address common issues. The priest lauded the local government for providing farmers with hand tractors and other farming equipment. “These have increased harvests for many farmers,” he said. But more needs to be done, he told the gathering. Farmers are looking for more practical irrigation source other than the use of wells, plus cheaper seeds, fertilizers and equipment. Bishop Dominikus Saku of Atambua, who also attended the meeting, urged parish priests to continue building relations with their local governments. “Church leaders and local authorities really need to cooperate with each other,” the prelate said. Vinsensius Kabu, head of Kakuluk Mesak sub-district, said he was pleased with the relationship Church leaders and local authorities in his area have developed. “My parish always supports all the government’s programs including agriculture,” the layman from Stella Maris Church in Atapupu said. The meeting ended with the planting of 200 seedlings donated by the local authority around a Marian shrine. IS13874.1648
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