Saturday, February 24, 2018
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The falling price of coffee makes has saddened growers in Ermera municipality who are struggling to improve their lives and send their children to school.

The President of Ermera municipality authority, Jose Martinho do Santos Soares, said the coffee price is a perennial problem for farmers, which has not been tackled so far.

The local coffee price is set based on the international market, which is falling in price at the moment, and therefore directly impacting Timor-Leste.

“Coffee costs 30 cents per kilo and this isn’t fair for the farmers, so how can they send their kids to schools and how can their family have good health?” Soares said at celebrations to mark Farmers Day in Ermera.  

That is why the local government has suggested fixing a fair price so that both farmers and companies can benefit from the coffee, he said.

Farmer Francisca Ximenes also called on the government to set a fixed price for Timorese coffee (Kafe Timor) as the existing price was too low. 

Ripe coffee costs 35 cents per kilo, with ground coffee costing $1 per kilo.

“We want the coffee price to be increased from $1 to $2 because we have many children who need to go to school and we can’t afford to pay for their school fees if the price is falling,” Ximenes said.

As well as school fees, growers spend the money they earn from selling coffee on traditional ceremonies such as funerals (lia-mate) and weddings (lia-moris), as well as other daily needs.   

President of the Ermera Community Leadership Association Luis dos Santos said some of the coffee trees were so old that they can only produce a little fruit.

“Some 100-year-old coffee trees don’t fruit well [and] that’s why the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has started doing coffee reforestation in some villages,” dos Santos said.

He also urged the government to standardize a coffee price that is fair for farmers.

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