Think Big! Taking Things to Scale

Since Market Development Facility’s (MDF) inception in Timor-Leste in 2013, interventions with the private sector have blossomed. Small-scale single partnerships have paved the way towards broader interventions which create more income and livelihoods for the people of Timor-Leste.

MDF’s latest partnership signing with international retailer, Vinod Patel, has the potential to make a large impact. The intervention aims to improve district-level distribution channels for horticulture inputs like seeds, fertiliser and equipment. But before MDF could work with large businesses like Vinod Patel, the team started small.


Recent estimates suggest that over 100,000 households are involved in vegetable production in Timor-Leste. The majority grow vegetables in small kitchen gardens, but they rarely have access to agricultural inputs, especially outside Dili. District-level distribution is therefore critical.

Agi Agrikultura is a Dili-based agricultural input wholesaler and retailer that was established in 2013. When MDF partnered with the business in April 2015, the plan was to set up a distribution network in the Eastern part of Timor-Leste. Through the intervention with MDF, Agi Agrikultura established a seed distribution system in the rural areas of the region and introduced embedded extension services with the input distribution. MDF also supported promotion and marketing of the business in the districts and assisted with training retailers to share usage information about the product during sales.

Over three years, 680 farmers in four villages benefited, and an additional household income of USD250,000 was generated.

Additionally, the final assessment revealed a positive impact on women, who invested their additional income in purchasing more nutritious foods and meat for the household. As women are equally as involved in farming in Timor-Leste as men, the intervention helped the business owner understand that challenges faced by men and women can be gender-specific. As such, targeted information was provided to women on nursery preparation and pesticide application, both activities where women tend to play the lead role.

With proof that the concept worked with a small business like Agi Agrikultura, it was time to scale up!

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