Project Everest

Work Update

AG SQUAD TIMOR WRAP UP!

by
Rebecca Pink
Rebecca Pink | Jan 27, 2018 | in Agriculture Assessment

Agricultural Assessment team is wrapping up for another month in Timor-Leste. Its been another incredible time on project and it’s ridiculous to reflect on what can be achieved in as little as two months from the projects beginning.

The team has been small but fierce with three trekkers smashing out goals like its nothing. The main focus for the month was to continue understanding the supply chain in Timor as well as develop and execute steps towards implementing a version of FarmEd model. The monthly goals were based around 4 main areas which were; region analysis, developing a demonstration plot to test innovative farming practices and technologies, gaining a thorough understanding of the market and facilitating UNTL student workshops to utilize their local agricultural knowledge and experiences.

Region analysis

This included working with NGOs such as USAid, HIAM Health, TOMAK and others to gain extensive secondary data to understand the scope and variety of issues in specific areas. We also conducted a community meeting at Hera with the Suco and village chiefs. This has allowed us to paint a picture of what kind of social impact would be valued and where. For example, Ermera farmers have an annual yield of coffee and from then do not have the means to farm anything else, resulting in poor health due to malnutrition and a lack of income for the remaining 9 months of the year. Whereas in Hera, there is a strong agriculture sector of both commercial and subsistence farmers – the commercial farmers are already participating in free workshops (NGOs) and would be more interested in utilizing technologies such as vertical farming to utilize minimal farming land. An emphasis from this analysis was also the need to protect the soil quality (something the NGOs in Hera were not highlighting enough) – this will necessary for sustainable agriculture in Timor due to the already minimal farming land, particularly those close to Dili. A more thorough analysis can be found in the handover below.

 Acquisition of land

The team was able to work with UNTL to acquire a plot of land (for free WOO) at their Hera campus. An MOU is currently in the process of being signed so that July team can begin developing. The relationship surrounding the land is also super ideal – it is 20 minutes from Dili, there are Agriculture students who are living on the campus, and interns who are seeking more practical experience and would love to assist in maintaining it. Following on from Decembers work, the team was able to continue planning what exactly the demo plot would consist of. We are very excited and can’t wait to see it come to life.

Supply chain and market analysis

The team was able to smash out visiting 50 different markets/restaurants/supermarkets as well as farmers to improve the understanding of the supply chain here in Timor. It was found that there is a strong focus on local foods and that Tai Besi markets is the hub for produce in Timor. Once again, more details can be found in the handover (including a crop database and list of market findings) It was also found that there are 3 primary agriculture supply stores who sell seeds, equipment and tools imported from Indonesia. The government also supplies farmers with small amounts of seeds but it ha become clear that this is not effective and there is often nothing for them to collect.

UNTL intern workshops

3 UNTL intern workshops with top students from the agricultural department were planned and facilitated this month – and they were unreal. The workshops acted as an empathizing exercise as the interns coming from farming families, as well as to understand what type of Ag knowledge is currently available to those in the industry. It was found that many of the technologies utilized in the blueprint are currently not being taught practically, leaving gaps in the students knowledge. BUT! They are so keen to learn and we see this as a perfect opportunity to have the demonstration plot development and maintenance (allowing it to run while we aren’t in country) instilled as part of a subject/credit/assignment within the Agriculture faculty. At the very least we want to offer research tasks through email to ensure they remain involved and ready to continue in July. We have a strong relationship with the Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and intend to have this done before the end of summer.

 

 

Its been quite a month but it is very clear that the agriculture assessment project has huge potential in Timor-Leste and there is no reason why a FarmEd model cannot work. The only concern for this would be that the industry is quite saturated and farmers have received workshops, seeds and other supplies for free from other organizations. It would require a lower cost to the farmer and potentially region/village specific blueprints rather than individual approaches. The export market also has massive potential, specifically regarding coffee – this is something I would recommend continue researching into (also the fact that one of the largest coffee exporters in Timor is currently disposing 500-1000 tonnes of coffee husk a year and is keen to do something more useful with it at no cost– FUEL ASSESSMENT !?). The other opportunity we have recognized is the processing of high supply produce such as tomatoes and bananas. This would require further assessment into costings as it may not be feasible for the current demand.

 

KEEN TO SEE WHAT COMES NEXT!

Love the Jan Ag Girls

 

 

edited on Feb 1, 2018 by Rebecca Pink

Amber Johnston Jun 30, 2018

Status label added: Work Update

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