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NATIONAL, DILI

NGOs and Private Sectors recommend gov’t to invest in the agricultural sector

NGOs and Private Sectors recommend gov’t to invest in the agricultural sector

Rice field.

DILI, 30 November 2022 (TATOLI) – Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector have recommended the government invest in agriculture to improve the nutrition of children and the people of Timor-Leste.

The recommendations were made from a dialogue between the Global Coordinator of the UN Movement to Improve Nutrition, Gerda Verburg, academics, non-governmental organizations, private sector representatives, and international partners, about food security in the country.

Gerda Verburg showed support for the strengthening of some foods, including agricultural foods, such as cereals and rice, as a relevant measure in the fight against malnutrition in children.

Rui Castro, a representative from the private sector, stated that the Government should set an adequate budget for the agricultural sector, saying this initiative will be a real action in fighting malnutrition.

“The state budget increases every year and the government should allocate funds for the agricultural sector and reduce funds for events-related activities”, Rui Castro also regretted that many people quit working in agriculture.

The Executive Director of the Alola Foundation, Maria Guterres, in turn, said any program that aims to combat malnutrition in this country should start by increasing public awareness about the importance of nutritious food.

Meanwhile, SUN’s focal point, Filipe da Costa, emphasized that the Government needs to know what the annual costs will be spent to combat malnutrition, and therefore he believes that a preliminary study is needed.

“The government has a budget and started investing in this sector, but it needs proper studies to fight against malnutrition. The World Bank has begun to conduct the study”, he said.

Concerning this issue, In 2019 the Government allocated, 44 million US dollars for nutrition activities while in 2020, the budget was robust with an additional 56 million from the COVID-19 Fund.

In 2021, Government allocated US$68 million, under the Economic Recovery and Stimulus Package, and in 2022 the budget was increased to US$117 million, the amount including the costs related to the Basic Basket Program.

According to WHO’s Preliminary data, the number of malnutrition in the country decreased to 30% between 2010 and 2020. Malnutrition causes 47% of stunting in the country, which affects children’s brain development.

Of the total number of malnutrition recorded, Ermera recorded 63.4%, 60.3% in Ainaro, and 57.1% in Oé-Cusse.

 

 

 

Journalist: Jesuinha Xavier

Editor: Maria Auxiliadora

Translation: José  De Sa

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