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What Happened After the Meeting in Batugade

This article is an English translation from the original article; Saida Mak Akontese Depois de Enkontru Iha Batugade on March 09, 2011.

The meeting that brings together the buyers from Indonesia and the local suppliers from Timor-Leste.

In late November 2010 Peace Dividend Trust (PDT) organized a meeting that brings together the buyers from Atambua, Indonesia and the suppliers in Timor-Leste from the district of Bobonaro and Oecusse held in the border of Batugade. The meeting raises some questions such as: What will happen next? Is there any progress/changes?

The meeting marked an initial step and is an effort made by the Peace Dividend Trust to enable the suppliers to be acquainted with the potential buyers from Indonesia, aiming at encouraging or increasing the number of exportation in the future.

As a result of the meeting, what has been the progress?

Few days ago, the Matchmaking team has interviewed several suppliers who attended the meeting in Batugade, Mr. Fransisco Loe is one of them. He is the owner of Devidil company, with the contact number +670-726 9293, one of the companies that buy the local products such as soybeans, peanuts, maize and many others.

Mr. Fransisco Loe, shown in the picture, is having a conversation with Mr.Julius Minure, the owner of “Gajah Mada shop".

In the interview, Mr. Fransisco expressed about the progress they have experienced as following:

We have now established direct contact with Mr. Julius Minure, the owner of “Gajah Mada” Shop in Atambua, whom we met when we attended the meeting in Batugade”. After the meeting you have organized, I went to Atambua and speak directly with Mr. Julius discussing the possibilities for me to sell the goods I bought in the district to his shop. I am currently making an arrangement with some of my carpenters to build a warehouse. The warehouse will be used for storing the goods, which according to the plan, I will purchase in May and June this year and will be exported to Atambua, Indonesia”

This represents a significant progress which the Peace Dividend Trust has expected from the realisation of the meeting. Mr. Francisco has also provided the information that his company is also planning to sell fertilizers to the farmers in the district referred with two considerations or reasons. First, the Gajah Mada Shop has a stock of fertilizer which they could buy at the time when they sell their local products in Atambua and using this opportunity to load the fertilizers into the truck they have hired to export the goods. Second, by selling the fertilizers, they believed that many people will buy since, in their observation, nearly 80% of the population in Bobonaro were farmers, and that they have also seen that Bobonaro district, particularly the area of Maliana, has an enormous potential for agricultural activities, such as producing green vegetables and other agricultural products. This will be an opportunity for the business to gain income and to grow.

New businesses such as selling fertilizers will increase the production of green vegetables in Maliana, Bobonaro District.

On the other hand, in the same interview with another businessman in Bobonaro district, Mr. Mateus Guterres, the owner of the company Comiko Maliana Diak with the contact number +670-745 3946, stated that the progress he has obtained are as following: 

I am still running my businesses with my company Comiko Timor Diak in Dili, where the products we bought are all transported to Gajah Mada Shop, Atambua. I have recently visited several places in Bobonaro, Suai and Balibo to talk with the farmers who sold maize, soybean, candlenut and copra in the respected areas to contact me directly once their products are ready to be marketed and my cars will come to their place to collect the products”

Based on the statements made by the two businessmen, it indicates that the meeting has actually affected the competition among them when they are to buy the local products in that area. The existence of this competition will give benefits to the small farmers in the rural areas in terms of the price of the product and the transportation which has become inhibiting factors for them from selling their products to the market in the district capital.

Mr. Mateus Guterres, wearing white shirt, when attending the meeting in Batugade.

Despite many progress made by the businesses, there are still obstacles faced by them. These constraints include those expressed by Mr. Mateus as following:

Our Government shall control the border area because there are still illegal buyers who entered through the border and buy the local products in the villages. I personally have passed this information to the MAF (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry) and have submitted a complain to the Border Police Unit (UPF) but they said that until now they have not seen or arrested those illegal buyers”

This remains as an important homework for our national authorities to reinforce the security in the border. On the other hand, another inhibiting factor that also needs to be considered by the government is the infrastructure, such as bad road conditions. This often makes it difficult for the businesses to buy agricultural products in the rural areas.

Bad road conditions make it difficult for the buyers to transport a significant amount of local products. This picture shows the road conditions to Maliana, Bobonaro District.

Ultimately Peace Dividend Trust would like to thank the Bobonaro Matchmaking team; Mrs. Domingas dos Santos, Joao Sequeira and Domingos Savio, who have been carrying out the Matchmaking activities in the district, while the Matchmaking services itself has been closed last month. As a result of their hard-working efforts, the meeting in Batugade border has been realized.

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