Coffee is Timor-Leste’s second largest export following oil, however, gaining access to the international market is a significant barrier for many farmers. For the coffee producing organisation Cooperativa Comercio Agricola de Timor (C-CAT) this was no different.
“Before Fairtrade came, our farmers found it difficult to access the market; they didn’t know where to go. But once we began working with Fairtrade we understood the market; we were given trainings on coffee quality and on developing our business,” says Carlito Alves, manager of C-CAT.
C-CAT is located in the two mountainous districts of Ainaro and Ermera and consists of 107 coffee farming households. Forming in 2006, C-CAT has worked tirelessly in order to organise and become a legal entity, focussing on improving their coffee processing and governance structures. Following C-CAT’s dedication, in October 2017 Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand are happy to announce the certification of Timor-Leste coffee organisation C-CAT. Through their Fairtrade certification, C-CAT aims to increase the income for remote Timorese coffee growers and provide employment for youth in wet coffee mill processing. Through trainings provided by Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand on coffee quality, C-CAT representatives have shared their knowledge among all members, including selecting quality coffee beans, a skill that aligns with international market standards.
“The model of development promoted by Fairtrade is and will continue to be a driver in providing remote and marginalised communities in Timor-Leste better access to international markets, stable prices and Fairtrade Premiums. We will work with producers to improve conditions in the community. So far, it has been great to be working with the C-CAT’s members,” says Will Valverde, Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand Producer Support Officer.
According to the World Bank, coffee exports from Timor-Leste grew by 20 percent in 2016, providing income for almost a third of all Timorese households. The two-year Timor-Leste pilot project is supported through Australia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) with the goal of facilitating market access for smallholder coffee growers.
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