Dili, May 28, 2019 (Lusa) – Timor-Leste wants to double coffee production and triple the value in the next decade, with an investment plan of nearly 40 million dollars (about 36 million euros), was announced today.

“The goal is to move from the current 10,000 tons of annual production to 20,000 tons by 2020 with a value of US $ 27 million (US $ 24 million) to US $ 73 million (about US $ 65 million ), “said Fernando Santana, director of the Coffee and Industrial Plants of the Timorese Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

In the launch of the National Plan for the Development of the Coffee Sector 2019-2023 (PNDSC), Santana explained that the objective is not only to increase the quantity produced but to ensure that a larger share of this production is of higher quality, thus achieving higher prices of sales.

This plan represents a bet on the improvement of production in terms of quality and quantity, which will allow a significant increase in the income of the sector that is currently one of the largest employers in the country, said those responsible.

The strategy is that more expensive coffee, above $ 5 per kilogram, will go from the current 2 percent to 20 percent of the total coffee produced, and that the intermediate price coffee (between three and five dollars) goes from 34 percent to 60 percent of the total.

Timorese Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Joaquim Gusmão Martins said the plan “is comprehensive, ambitious and with a long-term vision,” which seeks to involve the public, private sector and development partners.

“This is a new step that we have to implement to truly develop the sector,” explained the minister, who recalled the importance of coffee in Timorese history and identity, and one of the products that, at present, makes the country more known in the world .

The official recalled that one-third of Timorese families depend on coffee and 20 percent have direct income from the product, but because of poor production and low prices, many live with “high food insecurity” and poverty.

“It is necessary to modernize the sector, increase yields, expand production to new areas,” he said. The government’s plan wants to correct the inadequate investment made so far, he added.

Despite being the country’s most exported product, coffee in East Timor continues to be “far short of the long-term potential”, which leads many producers to live in “a scenario of poverty and malnutrition with lower revenues than possible”.

Below-potential production, inconsistent quality and poor management or coordination of the sector are some of the problems identified in the plan, as well as low levels of inclusion among farmers, little applied research, uncertainty about land ownership and the impact of climate change.

Poor roads and infrastructure, poor adoption of good agricultural practices, poor public program, low participation of young people and little information sharing also affect activity, as well as branding and branding deficiencies, little data collection, and few channels of income.

Those responsible for the plan stated that the main force of Timorese coffee, namely the Timor hybrid, is a unique and under-exploited genetic diversity, coupled with a private sector and organic production.

Good conditions and altitude for the production of ‘robust’ and ‘arabica’, microclimates and diverse topographies, that can help to increase the variety of flavors, are other positive aspects in the production of coffee in East Timor.

The strategy presented essentially aims to “foster the profitable sustainability of coffee in order to improve living conditions and foster economic growth,” said Santana, who also highlighted improved productivity, quality and market access.

The plan is based on aspects such as strengthening research programs, implementing best cultivation practices and increasing the total number of hectares devoted to coffee production.

Strengthening the focus on quality, enhancing value-added opportunities, improving the efficiency of supply networks to the East Timorese market, and links with regional and global buyers are other principles guiding the plan.

In Timor-Leste, the plan also wants to develop a vibrant and profitable local retail industry and develop ties with tourism by increasing and improving management and data collection.