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The Rice Kingdom

Bente Stachowske | Java, Indonesia

The village Ciptagelar lies relatively hidden in the mountains on the island of Java in Indonesia

The village Ciptagelar is a traditional indigenous farmer community in Indonesia and the head of the Kasepuhan kingdom, which includes 568 indigenous villages.

The farming practices in the village follow their ancestral principle. They implement gentle agriculture, the planting cycle takes place once a year for six months. They leave the land unplanted until the upcoming cultivation year. The community believes that land should be restored to achieve a balanced and harmonized nature without any chemical usage. The village is surrounded by rivers and springs, which the community utilizes for rice fields irrigation, daily uses like drinking, cooking, washing, and they generate electricity with self-made micro-hydro turbines. Restriction of cultivable area, strict rules in utilizing woods, and exact planting periods are examples of cultural-based policy leading Ciptagelar to social, economic, and environmental sustainability. They also use modern technology like an own TV and radio station, and King Abah is constructing a drown to protect the nearby rainforest.

The Ciptagelar community preserves their rice varieties and has organized a rice seed-bank that holds a legacy of biodiversity for the future.


My motivation was to document the community in Ciptagelar and to show how they live in a sustainable way with nature and in harmony with the community.



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