Singing, cooking and a rally help launch GROW in Timor-Leste

Campaigning for change article written on the 06 Jun 2013

Day 1. Monday June 3rd

The GROW campaign launch in Timor-Leste got off to a great start today at the Good Local Food Expo in Dili. GROW got off to an ‘un-official’ start at 1am this morning with a traditional ceremony held by cultural leaders to bless the event and the work of GROW. At 10am, GROW was officially launched by the Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Secretary of State of the Environment amidst traditional dance and song. Speeches were also made by Oxfam Timor-Leste Country Director Mr. M.K. Ali and President of the Good Local Food Expo organising committee, Mr. Mariano Fereira.

The event is aimed to draw public support for the production and consumption of good local food. At the heart of the event are small-scale farmers and fisher folk, particularly women. These ‘female food heroes’ work tirelessly to feed the most poor and vulnerable families and communities of Timor-Leste. The event is being attended by small scale farmers and fisherfolk, local community organisations and Oxfam Partners from 10 of the 13 Districts in Timor-Leste.

The small-scale farmers will spend the next three days promoting their produce and products, sharing experiences and knowledge through seminars, and drawing the public in through a cooking competition of local food as well as a parade through the streets of Dili.

Day 2. Tuesday June 4th

The second day of the Good Local Food Expo in Dili got off to a fiery start today. Participants in the local food cooking competition stoked up their stoves and showed what culinary delights their District had on offer. I followed the judges around and the result looks to be close (at least according to my taste buds!). I can safely say that the food on offer today was not only new to me, coming from all of the 10 districts represented at the Expo, but was hands down the best food I have eaten in Timor-Leste. The public was drawn in by the event and followed the judges closely so that they may too get a taste of the great food on offer. The cooking competition winners will be announced tomorrow after the Good Local Food parade through the streets of Dili.

As I write this the crowds are now being entertained by traditional music and dance. Later on this afternoon cooking demonstrations will be held by ‘master chefs’ on how to best cook local food.

Day 3. Wednesday June 5th – World Environment Day

The third and final day of the Good Local Food Expo got underway today with a good old fashioned rally. The rally started with speeches from the Secretary of State for the Environment and Secretary of State for Water, Sanitation and Urbanization. Local food sellers, school children, farmers, and organisations gathered to hear the speeches and then together walked in solidarity through the streets of Dili chanting the slogans ‘Viva small scale producers’ and ‘Viva the good local food of Timor-Leste’.

The rally culminated back at the Expo site and together people held hands and danced and shared food. Speeches were then held to close the three day Expo in which the winners of the cooking competition were announced as well as the official launch of the Female Food Hero competition.

Between now and World Food Day on October 16 there will be a country-wide search to find those female food heroes who tirelessly provide food for their families and communities despite the challenges they face accessing land and dealing with climate change.

Whilst the event is now over, the Good Local Food Expo is just the beginning of bigger and greater things for our GROW work in Timor-Leste. Oxfam, together with partners, will continue to work so that everyone has enough food to eat.

Viva Grow Timor-Leste!

Stuart Thomson, Food Justice Program Coordinator, Oxfam Australia

For photos, more information and to keep up to date with what is going on at the Good Local Food Expo here in Dili please visit our Facebook page


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