The Cooperativa Café Timor or CCT is the only Fairtrade organization producing coffee in East Timor. It is based in the districts of Ermera, Ainaro, Aileu, Manufafi and Liquica. Members of this cooperative are traditional small-scale farmers.
About Café Timor
Timorese people have suffered violent occupation by Indonesia, which has reduced much of the country to ruins and left a legacy of instability and poverty. As a result CCT members are very poor; there is high infant mortality due to insufficient health services, and 50% of the adult population is illiterate. There are very few jobs in East Timor. CCT is a major employer and plays a significant role in the country’s development. The cooperative works closely with international organizations to support producers.
Coffee growing and processing
For many members, coffee is the only household income. Crops such as rice, corn, cassava, beans, fruit and spices are also produced alongside coffee for household consumption.
During the harvest season, the producers pick the ripe cherries. The coffee is harvested by families or through labour exchanges with neighbours. Many farms are not accessible by vehicles so producers carry their coffee to the roadside where CCT picks up the harvest in trucks. CCT have facilities to process the coffee from start to finish. The cooperative transports the cherries to the washing station. The cherries are poured into water tanks – if the cherry floats then it is poor quality and is removed. The cherries are then pulped to remove the fruit and reveal the bean inside. The beans are fermented, washed and dried. At this point, the coffee is called ‘parchment’. The parchment is then sorted and sent to the milling factory for the final stage of preparation to become ‘green beans’. CCT’s green beans are exported around the world.
Benefits of Fairtrade
The cooperative has a General Assembly made up of delegates from the 444 community groups. The use of the Fairtrade Premium is decided at the annual General Assembly meeting.
The members of CCT see health care as their number one priority. In recent years, the Fairtrade Premium has been used for urgently needed health services. It has covered the costs of doctors and nurses, transport to remote villages, medicine and treatment, and equipment. The health clinics and mobile clinics are free for members and staff of the cooperative, as well as the wider rural community.
Economic: Diversification of income
With support from international organizations such as USAID, CCT has ventured into diversifying its operations. They hope to reduce their dependency on coffee and increase the benefits to those members who are only able to cultivate a small amount of coffee. The cooperative has successfully launched projects on organic production of vanilla and cloves and rearing cattle, and an agroforestry project which produces timber for construction and firewood.