Manatuto salt: bitter but sweet.
“As far back as 6050 BC, salt has been an important and integral part of the world’s history, as it has been interwoven into the daily lives of countless historic civilizations. Used as a part of Egyptian religious offerings and valuable trade between the Phoenicians and their Mediterranean empire, salt and history have been inextricably intertwined for millennia, with great importance placed on salt by many different races and cultures of people. Even today, the history of salt touches our daily lives. The word “salary” was derived from the word “salt.” Salt was highly valued and its production was legally restricted in ancient times, so it was historically used as a method of trade and currency. The word “salad” also originated from “salt,” and began with the early Romans salting their leafy greens and vegetables. Undeniably, the history of salt is both broad ranging and unique, leaving its indelible mark in cultures across the globe.” For more history on salt click here.
For those of us who know the district of Manatuto in Timor-Leste we know it for that bitter stuff which we use to flavour food and maintain good health. Large salt flats lay just to the east of Manatuto town. However, since the bittersweet experience of the 1999 Popular Consultation they have laid largely deserted and unproductive.
Ever bite into a chunk of salt? Bitter as hell yes? However, when I was browsing the Ministry of Tourism, Commerce and Industry (MTCI) facebook page this morning I saw salt and I thought to myself – sweet. Sweet news.
What did I see? I saw photos of the opening ceremony of Belak Salt! Its a salt production facility in Manatuto. lead by Director Joao Alves. The opening was covered by a couple of local media outlets, you can read the stories here, and here.
I think this falls into the category of light industry, and this example is the second light industry initiative to have kicked off in Timor-Leste in the last 6 months. I blogged about a batako production facility in Lautem some months ago – you can read about that here. Light industry means jobs, tax revenue, skills development – all of which is very welcome news in Timor-Leste – so welcome its veritably “sweet”. From the packaging it appears as if the salt is iodized, thus helping prevent the chronic appearance of goiters in the mountains of Timor-Leste? No more imported salt?
Here’s to Timor-Leste’s “sweet salt”.