Food Crisis

Tetun Version: Krizi Hahan
The Food crisis has considerably preoccupied the mind of the Timorese people as the price of the rice is skyrocketing beyond the purchasing power of majority of the Timorese. The price of one sack of rice is now US$32.00, more than twice as high as the price before the crisis. Many people cannot afford to buy even just one sack of rice. Consequently, many Timorese are forced to return to their indigenous diets, such as, corn, cassava, banana, papaya, and other locally grown foods.

Interview with Senor Antonio Moniz Mall – World Food Program – Suai

Q: “How and why does this food crisis happen in Timor Leste”?

A: “This crisis is happening because many people no longer want to work as farmers as they used to. They do not like to work in the farm simply because they are lazy. However, I believe that can survive on their indigenous diets.”

Q: “What are the impacts of this crisis on the ordinary people?”

A: This crisis has a considerable impact on the Timorese because the price of the rise is very high, US$32 per sack. People simply cannot afford it. In addition, they do not have money to buy other basic necessities. Other said this crisis is happening because the natural conditions, such as heavy rain, storm or drought.

Photos of traditional staples
Corn is the main indigenous Timorese staple. Although, people grow various types of beans, banana, papaya, cassava, taro and other root-crops, they grow and eat more corn as their main diet. Corn can be turned into different types of meal.

A photo of eatable fruits in Timor.
Banana is one of the eatable fruit in Timor. Banana is often eaten as breakfast. There are at 16 different types of banana in Timor with different forms, colours and tastes. Generally, the colour of bananas is green. But the colour turns yellow when the bananas turn ripe. But there is a type of banana that remains green when it is ripe. There is also another type of banana called “hudi hai” (fire banana) whose colour is dark red and remains so even when it is ripe. There is a special type of banana which becomes tasty only when it is boiled, baked or fried. This is the most consumed type of banana for breakfast, lunch or dinner at any celebration. The other types of banana cannot be eaten as the main meal as they are sweet.

Papaya is also an eatable fruit in Timor. It is eaten when it is ripe. But it is also can be cooked or fried when it is not ripe. It can be used as vegetable. The flowers and the young leaves of papaya are cooked (boiled or fried) as vegetable. They are good, it is believed, for preventing and curing malaria as they are bitter, as bitter as the leaves of bitter melon which are also eaten as medication for malaria. And there are many different types and shapes of papaya. The local one is very small and round. It is very sweet. The others were introduced later by the Indonesians

This short story of foods in Timor is prepared by Group III (in the YoMaTre Digital Stories Workshop) concerning food crisis in Timor Leste. We believe that we Timorese to a great extent still eat our traditional foods.

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5 Responses to “Food Crisis”

  1. […] English Version: Food Crisis Krizi hahan ne’e prekupa bot ida tebes ba ema Timor tamba fos folin sae halo ema barak labele sosa fos. Ema nebe mak laiha osan labele sosa fos tamba fos folin caru liu hanesan saco 1 $32.00. Ho rasaun ida ne’e ema Timor barak fila fali ba hahan tradisional hanesan batar, Aifarina, Hudi, Aidila ho buat seluk nebe mak ema Timor bele han.” [Show as slideshow] […]

  2. […] Cables & Docks News » News News Food Crisis2008-07-28 01:03:02More more than twice … crisis has considerably preoccupied the rice is […]

  3. Hello, I’m very surprised to hear that the Timorese are not farming as they used to because they are ‘lazy’. Do you think that is really the reason or do you think the lack of motivation to farm indigenous crops stems from deeper issues in the society? Do you think people will be more motivated to grow their own food now that prices are rising?

  4. Dear Esther,
    Thank you for your comment. I am up early to finish the introduction to these stories which were written by participants in a digital stories workshop last month in Suai. The accusation of laziness by the World Food Program spokesperson led to a class discussion about deeper social causes for their food crisis. This in turn led to the reshaping of the article which was going to be about traditional food only, to the one that has been posted under their new title ‘Food Crisis’ with the introduction stating the high price of rice as the cause. As the WFP spokesperson is Timorese it is probable that he has internalised feelings of inferiority common to colonised people, because he too states the price of rice as being the central factor along with weather and so forth.

  5. […] society: rapid urbanization, unsustainable living, technological advancement, global democracy…Suai Media Space Blog Archive Food CrisisEma nebe mak laiha osan labele sosa fos tamba fos folin caru liu hanesan saco 1 $32.00. Ho rasaun […]