Ten years after gaining its independence, Timor-Leste remains one of the poorest countries in Asia. While the country’s economy has expended in recent years thanks to revenues from the petroleum industry, the benefits of this growth have not yet been seen by the majority of the population; 40 percent of Timor-Leste's people live below the poverty line of 88 cents a day. Agriculture serves as the primary source of livelihood for 80 percent of the population, but yields remain well below those of neighboring countries and are accompanied by high post-harvest losses. Approximately half of all farmers only produce at subsistence levels. A lack of non-farm employment opportunities contributes to high rates of extreme poverty, food insecurity, and chronic undernutrition.
USAIDworks with the government and people of Timor-Leste to address the root causes of poverty and food insecurity through the promotion of broad-based economic growth. Assistance seeks to extend economic opportunity to all segments of Timorese society, including women and those living in remote, rural communities. Assistance helps small farmers expand their agricultural enterprises and seeks to create a business-friendly environment where all forms of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can flourish.
USAID assistance supports Timor-Leste to improve the productivity and capacity of producer groups through the introduction of modern technologies and cultivation techniques, while facilitating greater access to agricultural inputs. These efforts help transition Timor-Leste’s agrarian economy from primarily subsistence farming towards more commercially-oriented agricultural production by linking producers with end-markets. The focus on the complete agriculture value chain ensures sustainable business development, a first in Timor Leste.
The most vulnerable households in Timor-Leste have limited access to livelihood opportunities. USAID helps expand livelihood opportunities by building the capacity of agricultural producer groups and SMEs while promoting private-sector-led growth. These groups play an important role in commodity value chains by linking producers with markets, information, and other important services.
Environment and Climate Change
Timor-Leste's natural environment is one of the country's most important resources. USAID helps local communities protect their natural environment and adapt to climate change by teaching them new skills in agroforestry, natural resource protection, marine protection, and environmental management. These skills focus on forestry and watershed reforestation, soil and water conservation, fisheries protection and management, and sustainable non-timber forest product development and eco-tourism.
USAIDS assistance supports Timor-Leste as it works to strengthen the capacity of coastal communities to protect natural resources. Work with government ministries is helping to document natural resources and provide sufficient information for incorporating environment and climate change concerns into the decision-making process that will be vital to the country’s future development.
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