PARCIC started to work with coffee farmers in Timor-Leste in 2002, when the country achieved its long-awaited dream of independence after 23 years of Indonesian military occupation.
At that time, the nation’s exportable product was only coffee. Our hope was to maintain the independence, which the people in Timor-Leste won with severe sacrifice.
The farmers, who used to sell unprocessed red cherries just picked from coffee trees, now produce high quality of coffee “Cafe Timor” by our technical assistance and supplied equipment.
While supporting coffee farmers, we noticed the fact that improvement of the livelihood of the villagers would not be achieved without the women’s revenue earned by themselves. Therefore, since 2008 We have been supporting women in the activities of food processing. Their products such as honey, broad bean chips and herbal tea are now in supermarkets in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste. Herbal tea has been exported to Japan as fair trade products since 2012.
In 2012, PARCIC commenced a project to promote sustainable agriculture, with protecting the environment. The project includes technical guidance of organic farming and livestock breeding, effective use of firewood, and the promotion of agroforestry.
In October 2013, we expanded our assistance to women in food processing into six prefectures in Timor-Leste. We work together with 22 local women’s groups to raise their income levels through food processing business.
From 2015 to 2018, we implemented a project to improve water supply in Maubisse Subdistrict in Ainaro District. Maubisse, the area where “Café Timor” is produced, is a mountainous rural community located in the mountainous region of central Timor-Leste. During the dry season that lasts three to four months every year, people of Maubisse suffer from a shortage of water, not only for agriculture but also for daily life. In this project, we provided water supply to and planted trees in 13 villages, and built irrigation reservoirs in 6 villages. Access to water and living conditions for approximately 3,450 people have improved as a result.
Since 2019, we have been implementing a project to improve children’s nutrition. In East Timor, half of all children under the age of 5 suffer from stunted growth, and efforts to improve nutrition are urgently needed. However, even though most people know about nutrition, it is not applied to improve actual dietary habits.
In Atauro Island, Dili District, where fishing is thriving, furikake (Japanese seasoning powder to sprinkle over rice often made with seaweed and dried fish flakes) is produced as a project activity to generate income for women in fishing villages. Furikake has been introduced into school lunches in elementary and junior high schools in Dili and Ermera Districts. Nutrition education is also offered in the project area. Incorporating highly nutritious locally produced food into daily diets through these activities is expected to contribute to improving the nutrition level of the population in the project area.
In 2019, we also started a coffee fields improvement project in Maubisse. Coffee trees in Timor-Leste had been aging and urgently needed fundamental improvement measures. Most coffee trees in Maubisse were planted in the 1980s and are over 30 years old. It is said coffee trees are most productive during the period of 15 to 20 years. The yields in Timor-Leste are therefore very low now, just about one-fifth of those of neighboring coffee-producing countries. In recent years, the yields are becoming unstable year by year due to climate change.
Participants of this project are farmers of each village who are willing to improve their fields. The fields of participants are in very different environments. While learning from experts, the participants apply various measures such as replanting aging trees, improving the soil, and caring for the trees to improve their respective fields. Training for young people in each village is offered as a part of the project so that they can put into practice the knowledge and skills gained in the process and disseminate what they acquired in their communities.