Is There a New Food Movement in Timor-Leste?

Safira Esperanca and Sara Niner

2Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

We will discuss an emerging food movement in Timor-Leste. While local and international NGOs focus on nutrition programs and research food culture to solve the challenge of malnutrition that the new nation faces some locals and malais or foreigners have new approaches. The Festival Kafe Timor, a local coffee festival is now held annually, and a Slow Food convivium held in 2014 resulted in the establishment of three businesses promoting local foods: Agora Food Studio, Dilicious Timor and Distillery Lokal. These businesses or social enterprises promote local traditional ingredients assembled in new innovative and healthy ways. New local NGOs such as Asosiasaun Halibur Inovador works with rural communities to innovate with locally grown food and there are new cafes and bars in Dili opened by young Timorese promoting local food, culture and music. All these initiatives will be offered as evidence of a new food movement in Timor-Leste to promote good, healthy, local food and build innovation and enterprise in an economy in need of diversification.


Sara teaches Anthropology at Monash University. She researches on gender and development in the post-conflict environment of Timor-Leste. Dr. Niner has often worked and reported on gender issues in S. E. Asia for local and international development agencies. She also provides in-country advice on gender issues for international agencies.



The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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