The vibrant event was organised by World Vision as part of the TOMAK (To’os ba Moris Di’ak, or Farming for Prosperity) program, with support from the Australian Government. Municipal representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Timorese police (PNTL) and defence force (F-FDTL) and other NGOs also participated in the celebration.
Around 400 local farmers, producers, families and market customers took part in the event, which included a lively theatrical performance highlighting the important role women and men play in family nutrition decision-making. Other activities included a cooking demonstration and competition using nutrient-rich local produce, and producers and farmers connecting with service providers and buyers.
“No-one chooses to be hungry or malnourished,” said TOMAK Team Leader Richard Holloway at Baucau Central Market yesterday. “Baucau has ample good land to produce the food it needs to maintain a healthy population through what we call nutrition-sensitive agriculture. It’s not a complicated idea. It’s an agricultural approach that, put simply, supports families to produce and eat better food. World Vision and its local partners are important collaborators for us in reaching communities in West Baucau, and today is designed to showcase some of the ideas we are working on.”
World Vision’s Project Coordinator, Mauricio Gusmão, said: “Today’s event was a celebration of nutrition-sensitive agriculture so that families in Baucau can grow and prepare more nutritious food, especially for their children. We thank our government and project partners for this special event to promote healthy eating and help reduce malnutrition in Baucau.”
Representative of Baucau Authority President, Maria Celestina Viegas, also attended yesterday’s event. “I believe that through this event the Baucau community immediately saw and heard about the planting of highly nutritious local foods from World Vision’s trained groups. The program will be successful because groups, families and communities have initiatives to improve local foods through cooperation with local government, including the Ministries of Agriculture and Health, and development partners,” she said.
Timor-Leste has one of the highest rates of malnutrition among women and children in the Asia-Pacific region. According to the 2013 Timor-Leste Food and Nutrition Survey, 50.2% of children aged 0-59 months suffer from stunting (low height for age), 11% suffer from wasting (low weight for height) and 37.7% are underweight.
World Vision Timor-Leste is a humanitarian organisation working in Aileu, Baucau, Bobonaro and Covalima municipalities. World Vision works with children, families and communities to improve access to healthcare, clean water and education; reduce gender-based violence; and enhance livelihoods and community resilience.
TOMAK is a 5-10 year agricultural livelihoods program supported by the Australian Government in Timor-Leste. TOMAK is working closely with government, NGO and private sector partners to sustainably increase market engagement and improve household nutrition for farming families. In its first phase, the program is working in Baucau, Bobonaro and Viqueque municipalities.
World Vision, in partnership with Ba Futuru, Alola Foundation and CARE, is leading the implementation of nutrition-related activities for TOMAK in 18 suku in west Baucau. (pr)