News: Investigating improved water supply and commercial horticultural production in Timor Leste, November 2018

Richard Warner, Chair of the Fund’s Tasmanian Committee and Chris Thomson, Executive Director, Macquarie Franklin Pty Ltd, travelled to Timor Leste in late September on behalf of a project supported by the Crawford Fund Tasmanian Committee.

“We investigated ways to improve water quality and availability to the village of Balibo and other smaller villages”, Dick Warner said. “We were pleased to be working in collaboration with the Balibo House Trust, a Victorian based charity, which has significant activities in the area “.

The group also visited work underway to facilitate the development of a 3.2 hectare commercial vegetable and fruit farm which can be used as a demonstration ‘model’ for others in the region, and can be duplicated in other parts of Timor Leste.

Children at standard watering point from Eastern spring

Mr Thompson reported that the first stage of the farm will see vegetable seed, fertilizer and seed raising materials supplied from Australia along with a drip irrigation system supplied from Dili. Local high nutritious vegetables, identified by Plants International, are to be grown as well as western vegetables. Dili markets and restaurants will be supplied from the farm.

“The benefits of establishing a model commercial vegetable farm will assist the country in its journey of becoming self-sufficient in food”, Mr Thompson added.

The visit enabled the identification of possible problems and issues, and plans for improvements to the Balibo water supply and the development of the commercial farm are now  advancing.

Chris and Richard were escorted for the six day trip by Timor Leste Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Mr Abel Guterres. “Without the support of the Ambassador and the consequential abilities to meet people and understand issues, the trip would have achieved far less”, Dick concluded.

Dick reported that contact has been maintained with both projects and work is underway to secure what is required for the farm and it is hoped that a young Timorese associated with the work will be supported to come to Australia for related training.