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Poverty and the Agricultural Household: Some patterns and puzzles

Pobreza no Uma-kain Agríkola: Modelu no sasiik balun

1 July 2014.   Updated 11 November 2014

Skip down for presentations from the 5 November 2014 workshop on "Poverty and Timor-Leste's Economic Development Strategy"

On 13 May 2014, La'o Hamutuk hosted a presentation by three researchers from Monash University and DFAT in Australia. They presented their preliminary analysis of how poverty and agriculture interact in rural households in Timor-Leste, followed by commentary by La'o Hamutuk researchers Mariano Ferreira and Alexandra Arnassalon.

Following the discussion, the Monash researchers revised the  section on Implications and Recommendations. They continue to work on these issues, and welcome feedback and input to, +670 78086062.

Iha 13 Maiu 2014, La'o Hamutuk sai uma na'in ba aprezentasaun husi peskizadór na’in tolu husi Monash University no DFAT iha Australia. Sira fó aprezentasaun husi sira nia analizasaun prelimináriu kona-ba pobreza no agrikultura iha uma kain rurais iha Timor-Leste. Mariano Ferreira no Alexandra Arnassalon husi La'o Hamutuk fó komentáriu ruma.

Hafoin diskusaun ida ne'e, peskizadór sira husi Monash revista ona parte kona ba Implications and Recommendations. Sira sei servisu nafatin kona ba asuntu pobreza no agrikultura, no bele simu sujestaun no komentáriu ba, +670 78086062.

Summary by Australian researchers

The purpose of this study is to undertake a preliminary analysis of some important questions around poverty in Timor-Leste. Given 80% of households in TL rely on agricultural activity as a major source of income or to provide for their direct food needs, we focus on the role the agricultural sector plays in generating livelihoods and addressing basic needs. We use detailed household survey data to understand the nature of agricultural activity, highlighting the extent of reliance on subsistence agriculture, and the comparatively low level of productivity in agricultural production.

The analysis also links households’ consumption of food with their agricultural production and other income-generating activities. It shows some interesting facts:

  • It appears that a large proportion of the food that is produced is not subsequently consumed.

  • While only a small proportion of food production is sold in markets, the data suggests that a relatively large proportion is shared informally across households. This is likely due to the absence of formal markets for most products in many areas, and a lack of cash income in many households.

  • Household consumption of food does vary with income, but the variation is not uniform. Staple foods like rice and maize do not respond much to increases in income, rather the benefits of increased income are with increased diversity of food intake – households consume more meat and leafy vegetables.

  • The extent to which food consumption increases with income varies enormously with the source of income: higher levels of food consumption are observed among households whose income is derived from selling their food crop production, selling cash crops (coffee) or from wage employment. When income is derived from transfers and non-labour sources, there is little link from this type of income to household food consumption.

This research highlights a number of important questions and issues for policy and development initiatives. These are explored in the final section of the report.

Sumáriu husi peskizadór Australia

Objetivu hosi estudu ida-ne’e mak atu halo analizasaun prelimináriu ba pergunta importante balun kona-ba pobreza iha Timor-Leste. Porsentu 80 hosi uma-kain sira iha Timor-Leste depende ba atividade agríkola. Balun depende ba atividade agríkola hanesan fonte prinsipál ida ba sira-nia rendimentu, no balun depende ba atividade agríkola atu diretamente fornese sira-nia nesesidade ai-han. Tanba ida-ne’e ami foka ba papél ne’ebé setór agríkola hala’o hodi produz meius subsisténsia no atende nesesidade báziku. Ami uza dadus detalladu husi survei uma-kain hodi komprende didi’ak atividade agríkola iha Timor-Leste. Ami mós foka ba povu nia nivel dependénsia ba agrikultura subsisténsia no nivel produtividade ne’ebé relativamente ki’ik iha produsaun agríkola.

Analizasaun ne’e mós liga uma-kain sira nia konsumsaun ai-han ho sira-nia produsaun agríkola no atividade sira seluk ne’ebé produz rendimentu. Analizasaun ne’e hatudu faktus balun ne’ebé interesante:

  • Hatudu katak ema la konsume proporsaun boot hosi ai-han ne’ebé produz, parese tanba laiha merkadu formál ba maioria produtu iha area barak.

  • Husi ai-han ne’ebé produz, ema fa’an proporsaun ki’ik iha merkadu. Dadus hatudu katak proporsaun ai-han ne’ebé relativamente boot mak uma-kain sira fahe ba malu de’it.

  • Iha variasaun iha uma-kain sira nia konsumsaun ai-han ne’ebé depende ba sira-nia rendimente, maibé variasaun ne’e depende ba tipu ai-han. Alimentasaun báziku hanesan foos no batar ladún aumenta se rendimentu aumenta, maibé diversidade ai-han mak aumenta bainhira rendimentu aumenta. Uma-kain sira ne’ebé rendimentu boot liu mak konsume naan no modo tahan barak liu.

  • Variasaun iha konsumsaun ai-han ho rendimentu mós depende ba fonte rendimentu: uma-kain sira ne’ebé nia rendimentu mai hosi ai-han ne’ebé sira fa’an mak han di’ak liu bainhira sira-nia rendimentu aumenta. Uma-kain sira ne’ebé nia rendimentu mai hosi produsaun kafé ka rendimentu ne’ebé mai hosi saláriu mensál, mós han di’ak liu bainhira sira-nia rendimentu aumenta. Ba uma-kain ne’ebé nia rendimentu mai hosi transferensia (fo hahán ba malu) no fonte la’ós-servisu, iha relasaun ne’ebé ki’ik de’it entre sira-nia rendimentu ho nia konsumsaun ai-han.

Peskiza ida-ne’e foka ba pergunta no problema balun ne’ebé importante ba polítika no dezenvolvimentu. Kestaun sira-ne’e sei diskute iha seksaun finál hosi relatóriu ida-ne’e.

Downloads (English) from May-June discussionDokumentu (Tetum) husi diskusaun Maiu
A few months later, the Monash University researchers invited Dili people to attend a seminar on "Poverty and Timor-Leste's Economic Development Strategy" at the Excelsior Hotel on 5 November. The following presentations were given:

A lively debate ensued, with more than fifty participants agreeing that discussions like this are valuable and should be continued.

Fulan balun tuir mai, peskizadór sira husi Universidade Monash konvida ema atu mai semináriu ida kona ba "Pobreza no Estratejia ba Dezenvolvimentu Ekonomia iha Timor-Leste" iha Hotel Excelsior, Dili iha loron 5 Novembru. Aprezentador sira mak tuir mai:

Hafoin aprezentasaun iha debate, no partisipante sira liu na'in 50 konkorda katak diskusaun hanesan ne'e iha valor duni no tenke kontinua.


The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
Rua dos Martires da Patria, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3321040 or +670-77234330
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