Investing In A Strong Agriculture Sector Can Safeguard Timor-Leste In Times of Crisis And Protect Vulnerable Communities, says Oxfam

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

A research report, Agriculture Assessment, launched today by Oxfam reveals that lack of access to markets remains the biggest challenge for farmers in Timor-Leste.

While 80% of the population rely on the agriculture sector in Timor-Leste, a strong agricultural sector can protect vulnerable communities from times of crises, such as the recent flooding in Dili or the current global COVID-19 pandemic.

Oxfam’s research included interviews with over 80 individuals and farmers, males and females, from Viqueque, Ermera and Oe’cusse. They identified key challenges for farmers such as a lack of access to market, insufficient farming materials and difficulty in accessing irrigation.

“Rural communities need to be supported, especially to help them access markets. Investment in the agriculture sector can help secure our future, have a healthier population, and decrease poverty,” said Oxfam’s Partnership and Influencing Senior Manager, Fernando da Costa.

A female leader of a Viqueque horticultural group, as part of the research, said, “We plant and grow a lot of food, but it is difficult to make money because we can’t sell our produce. The road to the market is really bad, and there is no public transport from our village to the market. We’re far from the city, and so we just eat our own food and the rest we feed to the pigs.”

An Oe’cusse farmer’s group leader said, “When we harvest our vegetables, we just sell to nearby communities. Our produce is organic, but there are no consumers. We need a connection from our farms to the consumers, but there isn’t one.”

Oxfam’s research report includes policy recommendations. This includes shifting the focus from construction of roads to repairing existing road networks that connect farmers to markets; creating incentives to promote connectivity in the agriculture sector, such as public transport; and focusing on creating sustainable irrigation systems and maintain existing systems which can help support farmers.

The research was supported with funding from the Australia Government and can be accessed in English and Tetum online: https://asia.oxfam.org/latest/policy-paper/agriculture-assessment

 

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Contact information: 

Fernando da Costa

Partnership and Influencing Senior Manager

(+670) 7728 1665 or fernandod@oxfam.org.au