In Timor-Leste nearly 63% of the total number of households are dependent on agriculture, with the bulk focussed on the production of staple crops. The application of traditional cultivation practices, together with insufficient access to inputs and agricultural techniques, means productivity remains low.
There are only a handful of importers who deal with agricultural supplies but their coverage is limited to just a few parts of the country, resulting in poor access to essential inputs like seeds, fertiliser and farming equipment. As such farmers have to rely upon informal sources of input supply that are often poor quality, further impacting production levels and disincentivising farmers from investing in inputs. The problem is further aggravated by limited flow of information on the appropriate use of inputs from different sources.
MDF is supporting the formation, registration and facilitation of activities for the Asosiasaun Negosiantes Sasan Agrikultura Timor-Leste (ANSATIL), an association currently comprised of 16 retailers from ten municipalities. ANSATIL will bring together all agricultural retailers under one umbrella to discuss common issues. The association will serve as a platform for agro-input suppliers and retailers to buy in bulk directly from producers, have improved access to loans, learn how to attract more customers and have access to training including book keeping, inventory management and repackaging. In turn the association will have the broader industry benefits of introducing rules to reduce import if illegal, low quality products, making import policy easier and the coordination and communication of government policies.
Through retailers and suppliers having better access to information through targeted training on key topics, they will be able to better inform farmers, who will in turn see an increase in their yield and their income. The retailers themselves will also see benefit in access to better quality products leading to more sales and greater income.