The absence of food safety testing facilities in Timor-Leste is a major bottleneck in sourcing staple commodities for the production of safe, fortified and processed foods. It creates a disincentive for companies to invest in such sourcing and those that do invest have to rely on testing procedures overseas that not only increases cost but also increases the lead-time to processing.
Establishing specialised infrastructure and services around local sourcing such as quality testing, specialised transport and storage are key to facilitating large scale procurement of maize and soy, as well as other staple commodities from the local market.
Timor Global is a local agribusiness company mainly engaged in exporting coffee. It owns Timor Vita, a subsidiary which produces fortified corn and soy blend products for young children and lactating mothers.
Through this partnership, Timor Global is establishing the country’s first commercial food safety testing laboratory, to test for aflatoxin and other contaminants, and a state of the art storage facility in support of the production of corn and soy blend products with locally sourced raw materials. With the laboratory and storage in place, it will be possible for local companies to source and use local raw materials in their production process without the risk of harmful contaminants.
In July and August 2016, Timor Global conducted two roadshows covering eight municipalities – Liquica, Bobonaro, Covalima, Ainaro, Manufahi, Manatuto, Baucau and Lospalos – to create awareness on aflatoxin The roadshow demonstrated how to test the raw material for corn soy blend, such as maize at the farm gate, by using the quick test kit. The result of this test will help Timor Global staff decide whether the batch of grains being considered is suitable for purchasing or not. Besides, this activity will also help maize farmers become aware of aflatoxin’s effect to human body or animals.
Currently, Timor Global has conducted more than 30 aflatoxin tests using the quick test kit, bought about 40,054 kg of maize and 6,388 kg of soy from Manufahi and Manatuto.