Partners in Profits: USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project Teams with Entrepreneurs To Improve Farmer Access to Markets

Avansa Agrikultura
Avansa Tricycles Activity
USAID Avansa/Timor-Leste

For Immediate Release

Thursday, October 18, 2018

DILI, TIMOR-LESTE – Farmers in Timor-Leste are getting improved connections to their markets thanks to a grant program from United States Agency for International Development’s Avansa Agrikultura Project that helps vegetable collectors acquire cool storage and vehicles to pick up and deliver produce.

The project works with farmers to transform their operations from subsistence level to commercial but two challenges farmers face are a lack of cold storage and reliable transportation to market. Non-farm entrepreneurs saw the opportunity to collect and deliver vegetables but mostly using public transportation. 

Through the Avansa grant program, seven companies in Gleno, Hatu-Udo and Maliana signed contracts to jointly finance the purchase of three cool box trucks, one small open truck, three motorized tricycles with dumps, 147 crates, fifteen air conditioning units for storage rooms and four industrial scales. Many of the recipients are first-time business owners and youth.

“This development is another important link in the value chain that Avansa is enhancing in Timor-Leste,” said USAID Agriculture Officer Kristopher Rowell. “This actually increases value all along the way. Farmers save time, collectors have reliable transportation and markets have a good supply of fresh vegetables to offer customers. A stronger value chain will help Timor-Leste become more self-reliant.”

In addition to the grants, which help the businesses buy their equipment on a cost-share basis, Avansa helped the entrepreneurs register their businesses, develop business proposals, assess market demand and identify end-buyers, which include Dili supermarkets, restaurants and government institutions.  

Small-scale entrepreneurs are critical to supporting a thriving private sector.  Through Avansa interventions, commercial farming and off-farm opportunities are increasing in Timor-Leste.  Through USAID’s support a vibrant commercial horticulture sector has developed, improving incomes for farmers who now earn on average $2,080 from a baseline of $235. 

For Zelia and Domingos, their business allowed Domingos to return home to their remote village after working in a low-paid, inconsistent construction job.  The grant allowed them to buy one of the tricycles to take vegetables from Hatu-Udo to Ainaro Villa. They have a solid client base that includes a girls’ school and the local police and they are expanding to include small restaurants and sellers in the local markets.  

“Right now about 10 families living close by carry their produce by hand to our house once a week and we use local transport to travel to the big market,” Zelia said.  “With the tricycle we will be able to go to their houses daily and will also be able to increase quantities purchased and expand our collection area.  The tricycle will also allow us to transport vegetables more safely which will reduce damage and improve quality for sale.”

Last updated: May 21, 2019

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