Amplifying the voice and aspirations of women vendors in Timor-Leste marketplaces

The Timor-Leste Secretary of State for Equality and Inclusion (SEII), together with UN Women and TOMAK have shared the results of new research into the conditions, challenges and opportunities found in four marketplaces in Bobonaro and Baucau. The research specifically focused on the experiences and voices of women, who make up 75-85% of rural marketplace vendors in Timor-Leste. The Presidents of the Municipal Authority of Baucau and Bobonaro presented the findings to key stakeholders in Dili, including representatives from the Ministry of Commerce, Environment and Tourism, Ministry of Public Works, and Ministry of State Administration, as well as other government and international agencies.

The assessment was undertaken in two municipal marketplaces (Baucau and Maliana) and two administrative post marketplaces (Venilale and Atabae) through a series of interviews, focus groups discussions, and observational walks with women vendors and local authorities. Key priorities raised by women in all marketplaces was a need for increased access to clean water and toilets, better waste management, and strengthened marketplace management and governance. Women vendors also described a host of safety issues (including sexual harassment and theft), both in their journeys to and from the market, but also whilst trading or sleeping in the marketplace. Irregular and expensive transport to and from markets, along with aggressive behaviour from bus, microlet and angguna drivers was also regularly raised by women.

The findings underscore the often difficult conditions faced by women wanting to sell their produce and the need to incorporate their experiences when planning markets. One woman vendor from Atabae who was present at today’s workshop shared a personal experience of harassment in the marketplace. “I said to my friend [after being repeatedly harassed by a young male in the market] ‘We need to leave because we are not safe here and if we wait until morning, this young man will keep harassing us… It doesn’t matter if I don’t get money, as long as I do not lose my dignity.’”

The assessment comes at an opportune time as new marketplaces are currently being planned for both Maliana and Baucau, and there is growing interest from municipal and national government in the potential of marketplaces to add value to local economies.

“Vibrant and safe marketplaces have the potential to bring important economic benefits to communities, especially for women who are often the most active as traders,” said Sr. Armando da Costa, Director General of SEII. “This research shows us the importance of seeking out women’s voices in marketplace planning, management and governance. It’s time we listened to them if we want to increase the safety and efficiency of Timor-Leste’s markets.”

Municipal authorities, police and local leaders in Baucau and Bobonaro have been highly engaged throughout the research, and presentation of the initial results has provoked thoughtful discussion about potential solutions to existing challenges. Today’s workshop brings the findings to the attention of key ministries and development partners at the national level to further consider how the challenges raised by women might be collaboratively addressed for the benefit of the wider community.


Download the media release in English and Tetun.

Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries launches national NSA curriculum

Secretary General Cesar José da Cruz signs an NSA training manual on behalf of the Minister for Agriculture & Fisheries

Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) today launched its newly developed nutrition-sensitive agriculture (NSA) training curriculum for MAF extension workers. The curriculum, which was developed in partnership with the Ministry of Health, TOMAK and NGO HIAM Health is the first of its kind in Timor-Leste, and focuses on an often neglected connection between agriculture and nutrition.

MAF extension workers are based in every suku (village) in Timor-Leste, with a mandate to help farmer groups increase their production and improve their agricultural practices. Until now, they have not typically discussed the nutritional value of the crops and livestock with farmers, but this may be about to change. The new 3-day training package developed through MAF introduces extension workers to important information about nutrition, and shows how agricultural practice can respond to known nutrition deficiencies. Extension workers also learn how to facilitate farmers to think about family nutrition, and build confidence to discuss key topics with farmers, including how to balance the sale of agricultural produce with the need to maintain a diverse and healthy diet.

Extension workers participate in nutrition-sensitive agriculture training facilitated by HIAM Health.

Almost 100 people were present for today’s launch of the training curriculum, which took place during a retreat held by the National Council for Food Security, Sovereignty and Nutrition in Timor-Leste (KONSSANTIL).

“Nutrition-sensitive agriculture is not a complicated idea,” explained MAF Secretary General Cesar José da Cruz during the launch in Dili. “We are simply trying to strengthen the contribution of agriculture to improve nutrition. We cannot focus only on increasing agricultural production – we must encourage farmers to grow a variety of nutritious crops and to find a balance between what they sell and what they eat.”

Representing the Australian Government in Timor-Leste, Ambassador Peter Roberts praised the multi-sectoral collaboration underpinning the NSA curriculum. “I would like to offer my congratulations to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries who have led this collaboration with the Ministry of Health, TOMAK and HIAM Health to develop an NSA training package that promotes simple practices. By using the material in this package, we have the potential to greatly influence agricultural practices in order to improve nutrition in Timor-Leste.”

The training package, which includes facilitator and participant manuals, worksheets and job aides, has already been trialed with 90 extension workers from Baucau, Bobonaro and Viqueque municipalities, prior to today’s adoption of the training as a national curriculum.

“The NSA training package being launched today is a good example of coordination between two sectors in order to combat malnutrition,” said Director General Dr. Odete Viegas on behalf of the Ministry of Health. “Health personnel and agricultural extension workers both live and work at the community level. They should know each other well in order to better serve the people.”

An extension worker from Viqueque (pictured with moringa) following 3 days of NSA training facilitated by HIAM Health.

To access the NSA training materials, please visit our Resources page or download the media release.

TOMAK signs agreement with ACIAR and MAF for pig research

TOMAK has today signed a memorandum of understanding with the Directorate of Livestock and Veterinary within Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) to work together on a research project about pigs. TOMAK conducted an assessment of smallholder pig production in Timor-Leste in 2017, which showed there is reasonably high demand for locally-produced fresh pork, if production can be increased and costs reduced for farmers.

Director General for Livestock and Veterinary, Dr. Domingos Gusmão signs a memorandum of understanding with TOMAK Team Leader Richard Holloway

A key aspect of reducing production costs is finding a cost-effective diet that enables pigs to grow healthy and strong. Past programs in Timor-Leste have explored a range of potential diets, however the TOMAK assessment showed the majority of these diets could not be sustained long-term and were no longer being implemented by farmers. This, combined with insufficient knowledge and use of appropriate husbandry techniques, is holding back the development of local pig production and the potential for a fresh pork market.

Over the next year, ACIAR will work together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (through the Livestock and Veterinary Directorate) and TOMAK to undertake targeted research with a select number of pig farmers. The project will establish demonstration pens in Baucau and Bobonaro municipalities and work with farmers to introduce better husbandry techniques and investigate a range of potential diet options. If results from these demonstrations are promising and show potential to be profitable for farmers, TOMAK will explore opportunities to broaden and scale up suitable approaches to other farmers in Timor-Leste.

Women play a leading role in raising and selling pigs in Timor-Leste, and TOMAK will provide ongoing technical support to the project to ensure that women’s participation, engagement, and economic empowerment is a key consideration in this research.

Chicken & Egg: The Hard Choices

Timor-Leste has the highest level of malnutrition in the Asia-Pacific, and lack of protein represents a critical nutrition gap for pregnant and lactating women as well as children. Most Timorese households raise chickens, with both chicken meat and eggs considered a valuable source of food and income for families. So why does protein consumption remain low, and what would it take to change the status quo?

This article is the first in a series produced through the TOMAK Learning & Development Platform. Links to the fully referenced article in both Tetum and English can be found at the base of this page. 

Timor-Leste has the highest level of malnutrition among countries in the Asia-Pacific region and according to the national government, has shown inadequate levels of improvement in the years since independence was restored. Malnutrition – particularly maternal and child under-nutrition – is the single greatest contributor to premature death and disability in Timor-Leste. Child malnutrition in particular remains very high, with 46 percent stunting in children aged 0-59 months.

Stunting is a multi-faceted and complex issue stemming from a variety of historical factors including Timor-Leste’s relatively short history of sophisticated agriculture and competitive markets, and its geography; factors which clearly require a multi-sectoral response. Recognising this, the Government of Timor-Leste has made high-level political commitments, with overarching strategic frameworks and a multi-sectoral coordinating body to provide the foundation for a strong national response to malnutrition (Konsellu Nasionál ba Soberania, Seguransa, Ai-han no Nutrisaun iha Timor-Leste, or KONSSANTIL).

A critical nutritional gap for young children, pregnant and lactating women is protein. Evidence shows that low consumption of animal-source foods (such as eggs, milk, meat and fish) is the main cause of iron-deficiency anaemia, especially in poor households. Insufficient consumption of protein has a devastating impact on children as measured by their stunted development, which in turn affects the national development goals of the country. Malnutrition is estimated to result in economic losses of over $41 million annually.

While there are financial and labour costs associated with animal production, the vast majority of Timorese households report owning livestock, with chickens among the most popular. Chickens produce highly nutritious meat and eggs, and are also important sources of income. So why is it that protein consumption remains so low?

Poultry Meat, Eggs and Nutrition

A recently published longitudinal study provides important evidence of the impact of egg consumption as complementary food on reducing malnutrition of children under two years old. Children aged 6 to 9 months from the Cotopaxi Province in Ecuador showed improved anthropometric growth measures after consuming one egg per day as complementary food during 6 months.

Eggs also provide greater than 50% of adequate intake for critical nutrients in breastfeeding infants; may offer immune protection; are more affordable than other animal-source foods; and are relatively simple to store and prepare.

Why are chicken meat and eggs also good options for Timor-Leste?

According to the TOMAK Village Chicken Development Report, over 70% of Timorese households own chickens, with around 65% of chicken flocks being cared for by women. This has important implications for control over production and self-consumption versus sale. On average, a typical household owns 4.5 birds, with a 32% increase in the total chicken population reported between 2010 and 2015. Chickens are also an important part of Timorese culture and utilised during cultural ceremonies. Chicken meat and eggs are generally accepted and valued food sources in Timor-Leste, and are easy to prepare into meals.

On average, hens in Timor-Leste produce three clutches per year, with 12 eggs per clutch. Only two eggs per clutch are reportedly eaten by producing households with the remaining 30 eggs incubated per hen per year resulting in 25 chickens hatched. It is reported that the overall survival rate of chickens is as low as 10%. Most chicken rearing conditions are precarious and up to 70% of all chickens hatched die due to predation (cats, dogs, snakes) and lack of protection from the weather. Newcastle’s Disease (ND) is endemic and cited as the number one disease affecting poultry, with other diseases also taking a toll.

Typical rural Timorese households raise multiple types of animals at the same time namely sheep, goats, cattle, buffalo and horses. After pigs, chickens are the second most important livestock group (Da Costa Jong, 2016). Chickens commonly roam freely around the house, with only 16% of households providing shelter for their chickens. Chickens are commonly left to scratch and forage for food, with limited supplementary feeding from cracked corn, cassava, coconut, rice and rice bran.

Why is a more productive poultry system challenging to develop in Timor-Leste?

Newcastle’s Disease is deadly.

A village is likely to be affected by Newcastle’s Disease at least once every 2 years. An outbreak can kill most of the chickens in a village within a few weeks. Poultry usually die within days of contracting the disease. While considerable progress has been made by MAF in recent years to improve ND vaccination delivery, national coverage rates remain low.

The following constraints affecting poultry development in Timor-Leste were identified by TOMAK’s Village Chicken Development Report:

  • Chickens are generally managed in a low-input, low-output, low-risk, free-range systems relying mainly on scavenged food.
  • Farmers’ knowledge of improved husbandry practices is very low.
  • Newcastle’s Disease reportedly causes 15% of all chicken losses.
  • Losses due to predation often occur in the 6 weeks after hatching, and at night-time when chickens are roosting and nocturnal predators such as cats and snakes are most active.
  • Access to other animal health treatments (e.g. deworming) is virtually non-existent, as is access to poultry-related extension support.
  • Reproduction rates are low, due to sub-optimal nutrition and use of local breeds.
  • Knowledge concerning the nutritional value of eggs and poultry meat is limited.

The Hard Choices

If we know the benefits and the constraints to raising chickens in Timor-Leste, why is change not happening more quickly? Maybe some of the answers lie in the following hard choices.

Hard Choice #1: Backyard or intensive systems?

In Timor-Leste, backyard chicken farming is a traditional, ingrained production strategy transferred between generations with widely accepted risks and losses. The TOMAK Village Chicken Development Report suggests farmers lack confidence in the efficacy of moving from low input, low output, low risk production strategies to higher input, higher cost and higher risk systems. Such a shift requires farmers to invest more resources and time with ‘unproven’ returns on that investment.

Hard Choice #2: Sale vs. household consumption?

There are many ways that an agriculture program can link to nutritional outcomes, two of which involve a household directly consuming its production versus selling its production so that it can purchase nutritious food.

Programs that aim to both improve food consumption and increase incomes, logical as it seems, are combining twin goals that are in natural opposition with one another. For example, poultry farming can be an excellent source of both income and food for families. However, in practice most households have to opt between the two. This is because with an average of only 4.5 chickens per household, even if all hens are producing three clutches per year, at 12 eggs per clutch only 162 eggs are produced annually for the household. With an average household size of 5.2, the production is far below that required to meet the protein requirements of all individuals in the household, even if all eggs are being consumed.

When forced to choose, anecdotal evidence tells us that households prefer to sell the eggs. Therefore, when designing a program that aims to meet both nutritional needs and increase income for targeted producers, household capacities and resources need to be carefully assessed and taken into account. Dynamics around decision-making within households and using limited resources must also be addressed, as food utilisation is almost always being balanced with other competing household demands.

The TOMAK Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Analysis (2016) found that despite women being responsible for managing chickens, they have to consult with their husbands before using meat or even eggs for household consumption.

It is also important to remember that by focusing on high nutrition agricultural value chains (such as chickens), produce that is sold into local markets is likely to be consumed by other households purchasing them, which will also contribute to improved nutrition for the purchasing households.

Hard Choice #3: Local vs. imported chicken meat/eggs?

A dilemma exists between relatively cheap imported nutritious foods (meat, eggs and fish among others) which makes a significant contribution to total protein availability, and the effect of these imports on holding back the development of a local production base. A more rigorous analysis is required to better understand the impact of imported chicken meat and eggs on nutrition in Timor-Leste, but government data shows that importers play a substantial role in increasing chicken meat and egg consumption per capita.

Despite market prejudice against imported chicken (including concerns it contains chemical ‘poisons’ or is otherwise not healthy to eat), data from the Quarantine Office (presented in the 2014 KONSSANTIL Quarterly Food Security Assessment Reports) shows that in 2014 Timor-Leste imported 16,561 metric tons of chicken meat and 3,850 metric tons of chicken eggs. Meanwhile, data from the 2015 Census indicated that there were 928,806 chickens in Timor-Leste. If each local chicken weighs about 1 kilogram (likely an overestimate), the total quantity of local chicken is only 929 metric tons (equal to 56% of the amount of chicken meat imported annually).

Limited supply, high production costs and people’s preference for local chicken meat and eggs is reflected in significantly higher prices for local chickens and eggs, when compared to their imported equivalents.

Frozen whole chickens imported from Brazil retail for as little as $US2.

Live local chickens on sale for US$10-15 in Dili, Timor-Leste.

Hard Choice #4: What comes first, the proverbial ‘chicken or the egg’?

For poor farmers to utilise improved inputs and services to improve poultry production, they need access to more reliable and affordable inputs, friendlier financing schemes, as well as access to markets for sale of surplus production. However, current consumer (farmer) demand for poultry inputs and other services does not provide sufficient scale to attract market actors with competitive and affordable inputs and services, or buyers willing to tolerate unreliable, low, and disorganised supplies of eggs. Such a ‘chicken-egg’ situation requires a deeper understanding of underlying systemic constraints and non-traditional ways of addressing these constraints.

Putting it All Together

Rural families and small-scale farmers in Timor-Leste raise chickens for food, income, and cultural reasons using strategies that hold back the potential contribution of chickens to improving nutritional status. They are presented with very real challenges that require a suite of integrated and sequenced interventions that are able to demonstrate convincing results, and are able to be easily implemented by rural households themselves. Strategic subsidies and social behaviour change approaches will likely play an integral part in efforts to increase production of chicken and eggs, and consumption of these protein and vitamin-rich foods by women and young children. While there is potential to further develop larger scale production units, the logical starting place for improved poultry management is at the household level. Commercial production in rural areas is more likely to grow from experienced and specialised households.

The fully referenced article is available for download in English and Tetun. Further articles in this series will be made available through our Resources page.

TOMAK signs memorandum of understanding with Ministry of Health

We’re happy to announce that TOMAK has today signed a memorandum of understanding with the Timor-Leste Ministry of Health, which will serve as a foundation for ongoing cooperation with the Ministry over the next 5-10 years. TOMAK is working to address key food security and nutrition issues that remain an important challenge for Timor-Leste, with an emphasis on nutrition-sensitive agriculture approaches. This includes supporting activities which directly target known nutrition gaps, in particular protein, Vitamin A and micronutrient deficiencies.

Through a range of NGO partners, TOMAK is working with communities to improve the production and availability of good, nutritious food. We are providing support for increased fish and poultry production, greater production of grain legumes, improved home gardens, better storage of grains and legumes, and improved techniques for preparing, processing and preserving food.

We are also working to stimulate demand for nutritious foods, through a range of social and behaviour changes approaches designed to influence household behaviours. This includes working with parents groups and other community groups to improve nutrition-related knowledge, attitudes and practices; supporting the development and reproduction of nutrition-related extension and training materials; building on the Health Family Happy Family nutrition materials produced by the Ministry of Health; and reaching out to families through community drama, local radio, social and traditional media.

The Ministry of Health is a key partner in this work, particularly for the program’s social and behaviour change activities. TOMAK recognises the Ministry’s important role in maintaining the quality of nutrition messaging in Timor-Leste and coordinating the nutrition activities of multiple development partners. We are proud to be working alongside the Ministry of Health to help improve nutrition of farming families across the country, and we look forward to ongoing support and cooperation.

TOMAK supports business training for farmers

Developing commercial agriculture has the potential to enhance livelihoods and increase household incomes in rural Timor-Leste. Whilst TOMAK is already working with a variety of partners to support greater market access and engagement for Timorese farmers, it is also critical that farmers understand how agriculture works in a market economy.

To do this, TOMAK has begun working with partners at the Timor-Leste Institute for Business Support and Development (IADE) to design business training specifically for farmers. Over 3 days, IADE trainers worked with a TOMAK training consultant to familiarise themselves with a 3-module business training program for farmers. They also learned and practised a variety of facilitation methods.

TOMAK training consultant Joe Freach with IADE Director Beatriz Antónia dos Santos.

Each module of the training introduces basic business concepts and skills for farmers, using a series of interactive activities and real world examples. The training is designed for use in low literacy settings, with practical suggestions for how farming families can increase their planning and record keeping.

IADE trainers practice facilitating business training for farmers

With ongoing support from the Australian Government, IADE will commence business training with smallholder farmers in Baucau, Bobonaro and Viqueque municipalities over the coming months. Farmers with better business skills have the potential to grow their farms and can be more competitive in local, national and even international markets.

The first cohort of trainers from IADE are ready to facilitate business training specifically for farmers.


‘Agribusiness: The Path to Prosperity’

TOMAK opens offices in Baucau and Bobonaro

TOMAK is pleased to announce the opening of its offices in Bobonaro and Baucau municipalities, with an additional office to be opened in Viqueque in the coming weeks. With TOMAK activities planned in 66 suku (villages) of these 3 municipalities over the coming 4 years, these offices will allow our municipal teams to work closely with local partners and community members.

Inauguration of the TOMAK office in Maliana.

At the inauguration of these regional offices, TOMAK signed important cooperation agreements with the Municipal Authority of Bobonaro and the Municipal Authority of Baucau. The agreements signal our firm commitment to work alongside municipal government, and acknowledge their expanded role under the decentralisation agenda. They are also among the first such agreements to be signed between municipal authorities and a development program.

Zeferino Soares dos Santos (Municipal Authority President for Bobonaro) and Richard Holloway (TOMAK Team Leader) signing one of the first cooperation agreements between a municipal government and a development program.

Sr. Antonio Augusto Guterres, M.M (Municipal Authority President for Baucau) and Richard Holloway
(TOMAK Team Leader) exchange a newly signed cooperation agreement.

Municipal representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Ministry of Health and IADE, as well as farmers, xefe suku (village chiefs), and NGO partners joined TOMAK to mark the opening of these regional offices. We look forward to working together over the next 4-9 years to support commercial agriculture and improved nutrition for farming families.

A local trader who buys and sells agricultural produce receives ceremonial tais at the opening of TOMAK’s Baucau office

TOMAK plants its very first seeds

Planting has started as part of the TOMAK program in Timor-Leste. Following the rice harvest, farmers in Bobonaro municipality have begun planting mung beans in demonstration plots supported by TOMAK. Demonstration plots allow farmers to learn how best to plant and harvest specific crops, and also serve as a testing ground for new technologies and crop varieties.

TOMAK demonstration plots are established on farmers’ own land, and bring producers together with international experts, TOMAK field staff, and locally based extension officers from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. In between demonstrations, farmers receive weekly visits from agricultural extension officers, and Farmer Field Days are held at key points in the cropping season to allow nearby farmers to learn from each other and resolve common issues.

In Bobonaro, the end of the rice harvest is the time to plant mung beans, as they can be grown and harvested in the same fields, using only residual water. Mung beans are a nutritious food commonly eaten in Timor-Leste, but production is generally low and farmers can experience large post-harvest losses from pests and inadequate storage.

Now with support from TOMAK, farmers in Bobonaro and Viqueque will endeavour to increase their production of mung beans, and explore opportunities to participate in domestic and international markets. Women farmers are active in the production, trade and consumption of mung beans in Timor-Leste, which means these legumes have the added potential to increase women’s economic participation and empowerment.

TOMAK (To’os ba Moris Di’ak, or Farming for Prosperity) is an agricultural livelihoods program supported by the Australian Government in Timor-Leste.

TOMAK to collaborate with Market Development Facility (MDF) in Timor-Leste

TOMAK has today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Market Development Facility (MDF), which operates in five countries and also receives support from the Australian Government. Since 2012, MDF has been supporting activities to stimulate economic growth and increase incomes for Timor-Leste’s growing population. This includes support for growth sectors such as agribusiness, processing and rural distribution, and greenfield industries (construction, manufacturing and tourism).

TOMAK is an agricultural livelihoods program with a shared focus on market systems development as a vital catalyst for increasing household incomes. 

Recognising areas where TOMAK and MDF’s programmatic objectives and expertise might overlap, the two programs have signed a memorandum of understanding which provides a framework for cooperation and program alignment. The MoU establishes mechanisms for cross-program communication, partnership management, and transparency, and outlines key roles and responsibilities for each program team. 

The agreement, signed by MDF Country Representative Shariful Islam, and TOMAK Team Leader Richard Holloway, is a welcome step in coordinating the long-term efforts of the two programs. 

The role of women's organisations in nutrition and commercial agriculture

TOMAK has partnered with Rede Feto (the Timorese Women’s Network) and the Secretary of State for Women’s Economic Empowerment (SEM) to host a 3-day National Conference on Women’s Empowerment, Nutrition and Commercial Agriculture. A large group of 123 people (73% women and 27% men) attended the conference, held in Dili from 14-16 March. The Australian Government, the President’s Nutrition Awards Program, and the National Council for Food Security, Sovereignty and Nutrition in Timor-Leste (KONSSANTIL) co-sponsored the event.


Bringing diverse groups together

The conference was high in energy and professional exchange, bringing together a diverse range of people who willingly shared, learnt and were inspired by each other. Nineteen women’s organisations and 20 women’s agricultural producer groups were represented, along with key government service providers, development partners and private sector representatives. Women’s producer groups held a marketplace to showcase their products, which gave government and private sector representatives the opportunity to hear first-hand the challenges and aspiration of these groups.

Learning through experience

Participants visited a nutrition-sensitive agricultural activity involving integrated poultry and aquaculture, established by the NGO HASATIL. They also toured a social enterprise shop run by HAFOTI, a women’s organisation promoting local produce. To cap things off, local supermarket Kmanek hosted participants and spent time explaining their business model. This was of particular interest to the women farmers present. One of the participants, Lurdes Mendousa Ramos already sells her produce to Kmanek on a regular basis, but had never had the chance to come to the capital to see how her produce is finally sold to customers. Her smile was broad and proud as she stood beside her produce for sale on the shelf.


Executive Director of Rede Feto, Dinorah Granadeiro recognised the efforts of women and women’s organisations in her closing remarks. 

“Women’s contribution in food security, nutrition and commercial markets in Timor-Leste is very high. It is equal and more than men in many areas. But still, their contribution and right to be involved in decision-making remains undervalued and unrecognised. This must change. The contribution of women’s organisations in these sectors must be recognised. They are very active in establishing and supporting producer groups and filling the gap in unmet services left by formal providers. Across our networks, we have hundreds of women working effectively as extension workers, mobilising and motivating communities to trial new things to improve nutrition and increase their income. Bringing us all together with the government and private sector as we have done during this conference, builds respect and motivates us with new ideas for better collaboration.”

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