Lautem boasts a lot of interesting things: Jaco Island, the epitome of a deserted tropical isle; Com, a picturesque little fledgling resort town by the sea; one of the first batako presses in the districts outside of Dili. But from an economic standpoint, one thing Lautem’s got that’s worth mentioning is cattle. And that’s exactly the picture PDM-TL’s most recent impact assessment study paints while reviewing over one hundred business transactions tracked across the district.
Peace Dividend Trust’s Lautem matchmaking program spanned from early 2008 to mid 2010, run by two very dedicated field matchmakers equipped with motorbikes and cell phones and that’s it, named Manuel Canto and Octavio Ximenes. Over the course of the program, the two facilitated and tracked $638,000 in business transactions ranging from rental houses to cattle sales.
Being the eyes and ears of Lautem’s business community is no easy feat. Numerous hours were spent tracking down suppliers in all fields (literally and figuratively) who were able to meet a buyer’s request. And of course, for the purpose of PDM-TL’s impact assessment study, even more hours were spent retracing steps in order to obtain suppliers’ feedback.
To find out exactly what’s been happening in Lautem, head to our BuildingMarkets.org web portal where you will find the impact assessment series. The Lautem study used 191 interviews covering 114 transactions that awarded money to Lautem businesses and entrepreneurs. The results and feedback show encouraging signs of business development, with a cattle farmer expanding into block making, and a carpenter hiring more staff to keep up with high demand.
The results also show signs of change within Timor-Leste as a whole. Change revolving particularly around the perception of cattle and their variety of uses. Cattle buyers previously could have a tough time convincing a farmer to sell a cow for cash. While it’s true that cows were seen as an investment, they were more likely raised as an investment for future weddings, funerals and graduation parties rather than trade or business. As the study points out, we now know that the traditional use is changing and raising cattle is generating income for many Lautem farmers.
Based on PDM-TL results, the cattle trade in Lautem is not as active as it is in western districts, but it is indeed noteworthy. There is still a gap in the number of cattle producers to the demand for cows that needs to be addressed. For cattle trade to succeed in Timor-Leste in general it will require greater market awareness, an influx in training in raising and caring for large quantities of cattle, improved road conditions and transportation methods, and a better level of general coordination, this industry in Lautem will really take off. The potential is there, the proper investments just need to be made.
So, have a read of the impact assessment if you are interested in learning more about the businesses in Lautem tracked by PDM-TL. You can find the report in both English and Tetum. For a copy via email, or should you have any inquiries about the report, contact us at [email protected].
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