HAFOTI is now in the second year of a five-year project, Economic Development for Rural Timorese Women. This is a partnership between HAFOTI and Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand with funding from the New Zealand Aid Programme and Caritas.

As part of the programme, HAFOTI is building food processing centres in the districts for members to make their products. The first centre has been built in Aileu and building the next two centres in Viqueque and Liquica starts in 2017.

New products have been introduced from this programme. Soy milk has been a very exciting new development for HAFOTI – Aileu members use soy beans they grow in their own gardens to process into soy milk , which is sold to school children. It turns out that soy milk is incredibly popular with young Timorese but is just about unknown here, so soy milk has been a great new initiative from the project. Getting adequate child nutrition is still a problem in many parts of Timor-Leste, so this programme helps the women with income at the same time as helping the children get good nutrition. Dried fruit is another new development that has been made as part of this programme, and again, the new product is a great way for members to make a popular, healthy product from local ingredients.

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Photo by Helen Reynolds

Training in dried fruit preparation in Liquisa, with David Pooch.