Sorghum for Community Based Food Security and Biodiversity Conservation

We're reintroducing sorghum, the forgotten local food staple of Nusa Tenggara Timur, to revitalize dryland farming and local food security.

Photo of Maria Loretha
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Cinta Alam Pertanian 9

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $50k - $100k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 5,000 - 10,000

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Indonesia

Headquarters location: City

Larantuka, Flores Timur District

Location(s) of impact

Indonesia: Flores Timur, Ende, Lembata dan Manggarai Districts in Nusa Tenggara Timur, some locations in Java and Bali

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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

The geography of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) is dominated by sandy stony dryland (70%). The minimum rainfall is a natural potential for sorghum and legumes. Unfortunately, since 80’s national rice program, local farmers were forced to plant rice. As rice typically needs more water, the harvest is not as good. Over time this has caused malnutrition particularly among children under five, as rice was difficult to access. Moreover, local seeds and knowledge were lost among elderly.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

We reintroduce sorghum as solution for both food security and pro-environment farming. Local culture has traditional names for many varieties of sorghum, showing its importance as indigenous seeds and food in the past. Together with mungbean and legumes, sorghum is easily accessible local cure for malnutrition. We collaborate with local Health Post to promote this healthy nutritious local food to village women and kindergarten. We also provide sorghum and legumes in the monthly village health post checkup schedule, during which toddlers are weighed and given supplementary food. Sorghum is now “trending” in gluten free cooking/ baking, which means a new market opportunity. We organize farmers in working group and ask each to work on at least 0.5 hectares of “unproductive” dryland. We facilitated seeds and marketing, creating incentive for farmers to plant and relearn knowledge on sorghum.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Over the last 3 years Health Post data sample in Kawalelo Village shows reduced number of malnutrition case from 15 to only 2. We have proven that within 3 months of therapy, sorghum and legumes can cure malnutrition. Current research also show sorghum is superior to rice, e.g. in calcium, iron, and vitamin B content. Sorghum is slowly returning as local staple. The almost extinct sorghum seeds are now cultivated again, at least 11 varieties are recovered. From 2 hectares we have now around 724 hectares sorghum field across Nusa Tenggara Timur. This means new job opportunity, as we are planting dry, unproductive land unsuitable for rice. We are working also on sorghum mill to provide sorghum flour for local food security, particularly baby food. The remaining is sold to outside market. This means further increase of household food stock and income for farmers family.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Our project is currently funded by: Grant 30%, generated income (sale of sorghum product) 50%, and individual donation 20%. In long term we aim to sustain by selling sorghum product, among which investing in growing our sorghum mill to produce more sorghum flour.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

We prioritize sorghum for food security: farmers family consumption first, we only sell the surplus. Farmers must be able to enjoy their premium produce. We integrate local crop conservation, low-input farming, and local food promotion. By cultivating old sorghum seeds, we are mainstreaming farming techniques most suitable for local condition (soil and climate), and contribute to food stock that otherwise would have to be obtained from outside the island.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

It started April 2007 with a bowl of warm sorghum with coconut grating, sent by Auntie Maria Helan my neighbor in Pajinian Village, Adonara Island. The unique taste inspired me to ask for the seeds to plant in my own backyard. We had 2 hectares of land, and still have plenty of room. So I started my hunting journey to find sorghum seeds across islands of Flores, Sabu, and Sumba. Sadly, I found that most people have forgotten about this food. Only in remotest villages out of government’s reach sorghum still existed. However, the people there survived and healthy with mainly sorghum and legumes. None are suffering from malnutrition nor obesity, not even children.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Ashoka page or contact


Join the conversation:

Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

Really exciting initiative. Go ahead and good luck.

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