CRS worker in Indonesia focuses on agriculture

| Carol Jessen-Klixbull For The Catholic Spirit | March 28, 2011 | 0 Comments

The following is the third in a four-part series

Since 1975, Operation Rice Bowl, the Lenten program of Catholic Relief Services, has helped to improve people’s ability to access food in communities around the world and in the United States.

As the official international Catholic relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services works with local, national and international Catholic institutions and structures, as well as other organizations, to assist people on the basis of need, without regard to race, religion or nationality.

In each issue during Lent, The Catholic Spirit is sharing CRS’ work with an email interview and recipe from a country that agency serves. Haiti and Kenya were featured previously and Honduras will be highlighted in the next issue.


Yenni Suryani, a native of Indonesia, has worked with CRS there for 18 years and currently serves as the organization’s country manager for Indonesia.

Q. What are the critical needs regarding agriculture in Indonesia?

A. The majority of the poor in Indonesia live in rural areas. Most of them rely on agriculture as their primary source of livelihood. It is critical to implement a comprehensive agriculture program that would strengthen food security throughout the country.

This will only be achieved if farmers apply techniques that are most appropriate to the terrain and climate where they live (such as planting both perennial and seasonal crops, intercropping and cultivation of food and cash crops) and if farmers are able to sell their surplus products. The cash they receive from sales support food security and family welfare by providing greater access to food and other household necessities.

Q. How do you see CRS making a difference?

A. CRS doesn’t just deliver assistance to beneficiaries — it continues to work alongside them, helping them utilize that assistance for optimal results. For example, when CRS trained farmers on appropriate techniques for dry land agriculture, the organization followed up with intensive “coaching” to help them apply what they had learned — demonstrating how to make compost, preserve water and create land terracing.

Indonesian Sayur Asem
(Sour Soup)

3 shallots, sliced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 red chili pepper, seeded and sliced
3?4 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped
1?2 tsp. salt
4 cups water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1?2 cup fresh or frozen green beans
1?2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 cup fresh or frozen spinach
1?2 lemon

Put 2 shallots, 3 garlic cloves, ginger, red chili pepper, 1?4 cup peanuts, salt and 1?2 cup water into food processor or blender and blend well.

Sauté 1 shallot and 2 garlic cloves in a pot. Add 31?2 cups water, bouillon cube, 1?2 cup peanuts, brown sugar and the blended ingredients. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add zucchini, green beans, corn and spinach. Cook over high heat until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Just before serving, add juice of 1?2 lemon and stir.

Yield: 4 to 5 servings

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Category: The Lesson Plan