U.S. Ambassador visits East Timor project sites to celebrate national holiday

Ambassador Stanton East Timor nursery webAmbassador Stanton East Timor nursery web[U.S. Ambassador to East Timor Karen Stanton visits a nursery for Robusta coffee, shade trees and moringa in Patoo.]Attending Proclamation of Independence Day events in East Timor last month, U.S. Ambassador Karen Stanton traveled to the eastern part of the island to both celebrate the holiday and visit U.S.-funded projects in the region.

Staying overnight at the Cooperativa Café Timor (CCT) Guest House in Patoo, Lautem District—which was built as part of longterm U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investment in the region and sits on acres of land for fruit tree grafting and seedling research—Ambassador Stanton visited project sites for the USDA-funded East Timor Agribusiness Development Project, implemented by longtime partners NCBA CLUSA and CCT.

“The U.S. is very proud of our longterm investments in these projects, and we have looked at it as a kind of model for successful development,” Ambassador Stanton said in an interview earlier this year with the Visionaries Public Television Series, which highlights U.S. development partnerships in East Timor in "In the Spirit of Cooperation," 

During her November visit, Ambassador Stanton visited multiple sites, highlighting various parts of the projects including seedling production and farmer support.

While touring the seedling nurseries at Patoo, Stanton was able to see where many of the plant cuttings and seedlings provided to farmers by the project are produced. These nurseries house seedlings for Robusta coffee, cocoa, cassava, shade trees, vanilla, close, pepper and moringa. Many of these crops are new to the eastern part of the island and were specifically selected for its climate.

The diversification of crops in the region opens up new income opportunities for farmers, and expands the benefits of co-op membership to farmers previously outside of the Arabica coffee regions. Prior to these crop introductions, farm income was not common in the area.

Ambassador Stanton visited farmers like Azina da Costa, who is managing a farm of coffee, vanilla, pepper and moringa and farmer-brothers Batista and Evartista Dias Quintas. During these farm visits, Stanton observed how farm management is key to crop growth. The Quintas brothers built high stone walls to keep grazing cattle away from their crops—key in a region with many free grazing animals.

Since its inception in October 2014, the Agribusiness Development Project has worked to introduce new crop varieties to over 6,200 farmers in East Timor's three eastern districts: Lautem, Baucua and Viqueque. Over 8,200 farmers have also received other USDA support and training on agriculture techniques.


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