[T]imor-Leste took a stride towards revitalizing its coffee industry last month, announcing the formation of its first coffee industry association. The Timor-Leste Coffee Association (ACTL) formed to establish a private sector forum, through which a diverse group of stakeholders can collaborate to tackle serious issues facing coffee production in the country.
Timor-Leste has been producing coffee for more than two hundred years, and is known for production of the popular arabica variety, Hibrido de Timor. ACTL hopes to increase both the volume and value of coffees sold for export and domestic consumption. The association also aims to serve as the unified source for industry standards, industry advocacy, media representation, and international brand development for Timorese coffee, while offering capacity development and best practices training for farmers and other members of the industry.
Twenty-four industry members met at a workshop in Dili earlier this fall to develop a vision, strategic plan, structure, and governance model for the new association. ACTL receives support from the Asian Development Bank, United Nations Development Program, and the Market Development Facility.
In a press release issued by the association, Asian Development Bank director Paolo Spantigati said, “More than 25 percent of all households in Timor-Leste grow coffee and there is huge potential to improve production and quality.” He also expressed his hope for the initiative to support planning and implementation of activities to develop the coffee sector and improve farmers’ lives.
Ted Lingle, Specialty Coffee Association of America co-founder and Coffee Quality Institute consultant, also facilitated the formation of the group. Lingle led the weeklong workshop in Dili, which was attended by representatives of coffee farming groups, cooperatives, coffee traders, exporters, roasters, and retailers.
The group’s first activity, planned for December 1, will be a cupping competition and national coffee festival, featuring a professional conference program with international speakers and a consumer exhibition area for roasters and retailers to market Timorese coffee.