DILI, 05 february 2024 (TATOLI) – The Government of Japan continues its support to rural farmers and communities of Atsabe, in the Ermera municipality, in partnership with CARE through the HAFORSA project. This year, the HAFORSA project is extending to its third phase with the generous funding assistance from and continued partnership with the Government of Japan.
The Ambassador of Japan to Timor-Leste Tetsuya Kimura, and the Program Manager for the HAFORSA project, Yoko Ito, signed the agreement for the extension of the HAFORSA project’s third phase, with the project value of USD US$355,942.
HAFORSA 3 aims to build on the achievements and lessons from the preceding phase, namely on improving the livelihoods of rural farmers, enhancing women’s economic empowerment, and improving their nutritional status through the promotion of a healthy diet and cooking practices. The shift from subsistence agriculture to market-oriented agriculture will also be a key component of the third phase of the project. Working closely with the rural farmers, our team aims to enhance the use of innovative and modern agricultural techniques to increase their agricultural production and linking them to their local market to sell their produce.
At the signing agreement event for the extension of the HAFORSA project, Tetsuya Kimura stated that the Government of Japan supports the 9th Constitutional Government’s policy on agricultural development which is a foundation of economic and social development and expressed its willingness to continue supporting the agricultural development in collaboration with CARE. “During the public speaking presentations and horticulture product sales event in Atsabe, which I attended last October with H.E. Secretary of State for Gender Equality, we received requests for the continuation of HAFORSA project. It is my great pleasure to be able to respond to the community’s request today.”
During his remarks, Peter Goodfellow, Country Director of CARE in Timor-Leste, said: “We are proud to celebrate today the expansion of this important initiative for women and girls living in remote, rural parts of Atsabe, and call for the sharing and promotion of best practice of tools and experience of women’s leadership in agriculture from this project in similar initiatives elsewhere in the country. This project is successful thanks to the strong partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock, Fisheries and Forestry, the Secretary of State for Equality, the Atsabe and Ermera administration, and the Embassy of Japan. On behalf of CARE, we acknowledge and appreciate this collaboration.”
From 2016 to 2019 CARE implemented the HAFORSA 1 project in Atsabe, with the objective of enhancing the capacity of farmers to diversify and sustain their livelihoods in agriculture and strengthen women’s participation in livelihoods activities. Following on from the completion of the first phase of the project, the second phase operated from 2020 until early 2024, to build on the successes of the first phase in improving livelihoods and addressing challenges related to gender inequality. Despite the successful implementation of the first phase of the project, in some areas women continue to be expected to bear the burden of unequal domestic responsibilities with agricultural and livelihoods activities. In addition, harmful gender norms and traditional perceptions about women’s roles in agriculture hindered their representation in decision-making roles within the farmer group structures. To respond to this challenge, in the second phase the team trained female farmers in public speaking, and facilitated their engagement and leadership in community decision making processes. Engaging men and boys to promote gender equality awareness and disrupt negative gender norms enabled women to take on leadership roles within their farmer groups.
Prior to the start of the project, some communities in the Atsabe region lacked agricultural water supply systems to support farmers with their agricultural activities throughout the dry season. Farmers in the area were primarily reliant on rain-fed cultivation for their livelihoods, making it difficult to cultivate when the region enters periods of drought. In the second phase of the HAFORSA project, communities established agricultural water systems and CARE provided capacity-building training to help them manage and maintain the water systems beyond the project implementation period.
Journalist: Jose Belarmino de Sa
Editor: Filomeno Martins