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Feeding The Nation

Organic Rice: Beyond a Healthy Lifestyle

The demand for organic rice is not only about healthy living; it is also fuelled by concern for the environment and the people who grow the crop.

Words by Vikaria Lestari, Photography by Helen Yuanita

Awareness of the importance of a nutritious diet, as well as how we can all contribute to a more sustainable planet, is on the rise. Nowadays, an increasing number of people are reducing the use of plastics at home, including the trend for using non-plastic straws, as well as using more eco-friendly products for cleaning aids. Similarly, there is a growing demand for organic rice since it is believed to be more nutritious and have less of an environmental impact than the conventional product.

Organic rice refers to rice that is certified by an independent body to have been grown and processed according to set organic standards, which stipulate that no synthetic or chemical pesticides were used during production. Insects, diseases, and weeds are managed using non-chemical forms of pest control. Soil fertility is also maintained through natural processes, including the application of composted manure and plant wastes.

Indonesia has at least nine National Organic Certification Bodies, known as LSO (Lembaga Sertifikasi Organik), to certify that organic rice has met the standardised organic systems. The LSOs themselves have been accredited by KAN (Komite Akreditasi Nasional),the National Accreditation Body of Indonesia. With the certificate issued by LSO, the organic rice sold in stores is then guaranteed to have been grown under the standardised organic system.

“Consuming organic rice does not only make us healthier, but also helps to take care of nature, and at the same time improve the welfare of the farmers, for the price of organic rice is twice that of the conventional product,” says Ahmad Jatika, the founder of NOSC (Nusantara Organic SRI Center). SRI stands for ‘System of Rice Intensification’; this system results in a faster and bigger harvest, yet requires less input in terms of water, conventional pesticides, fertilisers, etc.

NOSC was established in 2005 in Nagrak, Sukabumi, West Java. As a nature enthusiast, Jatika is greatly concerned with caring for the environment. A book about organic farming, revealing how soil suffers due to consecutive treatment with conventional fertilisers, had moved him to act. Through classroom and field training by NOSC, farmers are encouraged to grow rice using only natural processes within the SRI system. Collaborating with city governments in Morowali, Central Kalimantan and Flores, NOSC has guided hundreds of farmers.

Asked about the superiority of organic rice compared to conventional rice, Jatika says: “Besides the absence of pesticide residues, the cooked organic rice has a longer shelf life. Based on my experience, it is still good to eat even after 24 hours at room temperature. The cooked organic rice has a softer and more moist texture, so it tastes more delicious.”

Consuming organic rice is like killing two birds with one stone: in addition to the nutritional benefits, its production may help conserve the environment for future generations

 

 

Vikaria Lestari

Javanese by birth, is a writer and translator whose passions are travelling, food and reading. Her hobby, amongst others, is observing the unique characteristics of different cuisines and places, which she shares later in her writing. Her published works include translated novels written by bestselling American authors, as well as travel and lifestyle articles.