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EU – ILO and TradeInvest Timor-Leste join forces to develop and expand coconut business opportunities in Timor-Leste

  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) and TradeInvest Timor-Leste, supported by the European Union, sign a Technical Cooperation Agreement to develop coconut business opportunities in Timor Leste

DILI, Timor-Leste, (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization (ILO) and TradeInvest Timor-Leste sign a Technical Cooperation Agreement on 23 May to develop coconut business opportunities in Timor-Leste together with the private sector. The agreement, supported by the European Union Agroforestry Skills project, highlights the synergies among parties involved to expand the market of as well as promote trade and investment in the coconut value chains and to improve key players’ capacities in the coconut industry, from producers and processors to buyers and investors.

Coconut is a popular cash crop in Timor-Leste and widely planted in most part of the country, particularly in coastal areas with an estimated production of around 30,000 tons per year. Covering a total area of 12,000 hectares with over 16,000 farmers, the coconut business has a great potential and there are untapped international market such as Australia and other European countries for by products such as pulp, husk/coir and shell that are not yet explored, used and processed in Timor-Leste.

Decio Ribeiro Sarmento, director of Export Promotion at TradeInvest TL, stated that Timor-Leste currently only sells coconuts for domestic consumptions and is marginally processed coconuts into limited products such as copra and virgin coconut oil (VCO). “By signing the technical cooperation agreement with the ILO, we hope that we can expand the variety of coconut products in Timor-Leste. Not only copra or VCO, but we can also produce other derivatives products such as coco peat, coco RBD oil so that TradeInvest TL can facilitate exploring international market for boosting export business and activities of the country,” he said.

ILO country director for Indonesia and Timor-Leste, Simrin Singh, emphasized that the ILO through the Agroforestry Skills Project supports the development of coconut value chain business in the country. “The ILO continuously support the government of Timor-Leste by providing skills training for young people, women and rural families so that they will be economically empowered and will have skills needed to jointly collaborate with private sector expanding the coconut plantations and businesses at an industrial scale that, in turn, will contribute to the national economy and a greater decent business and employment opportunities.”

Meanwhile, the ambassador of the European Union (EU), Marc Fiedrich, said: “The Agroforestry Skills project, funded by the European Union, is contributing for the diversification of the economy in Timor-Leste, by identifying new agroforestry development opportunities in the coconut value chain. We hope, with this project, to improve the capacity of youth and women in Timor-Leste and provide them entrepreneurship and agroforestry development skills, to create their own employment and develop the economy of the country.”

Following the signing ceremony, a workshop is conducted, presenting two successful companies in coconut business from Indonesia, PT Bali Coco and PT Indobriket, which have exported various coconut products to international market. Representatives of these companies share their knowledge and expertise on how to develop successful coconut business. The workshop is an introductory session to engage and empower enterprises in Timor-Leste to invest and take part in developing the coconut value chain businesses that will be facilitated by the EU-funded Agroforestry Skills for Employment and Resilience project, implemented by the ILO.



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