Realising Norway has never imported anything from Timor-Leste, the embassy’s minister counsellor for Timor-Leste (and coffee addict) Henning Hj. Johansen decided to take the matters into his own hands.
During a visit to Dili he got good help from UNDP and Timor Global to find some of the best coffee this young nation has to offer.
Travelling to Railaco, 30 kilometers and 1 hour 20 minutes from Dili, he visited the production facilities of Timor Global and was introduced to the fine art of cupping in addition to getting a good brief on the status of coffee production in the country.
Coffee is the second most important export product for Timor-Leste, though lagging very far behind the value of hydrocarbons. (Timor-Leste was relatively recently named the second most oil dependent country in the world, after South Sudan).
However, there is a huge potential for improving the economic impact coffee can have on the country’s farmers. Most of the farmers making money from coffee today, have a limited income from coffee.
There are several reasons for this.
Among them are a very low yield per hectare, limited competence in securing the quality of the beans and production methods that make entering the “speciality coffee”-segment difficult.
Timor Global, being a supporter of the World Food Programme’s Zero Hunger Challenge, is also aiming to cooperate with UNDP to assist Timorese farmers in increasing the price they can get for their coffee.
One way of doing this is to attract international coffee aficionados, roasters and cuppers to Dili to increase the industry’s knowledge of Timor-Leste’s coffee.
So, when our colleague was in Railaco he bought 25 kilos of green (unroasted) coffee beans which will be officially imported to Norway on Sunday 12th of June.
All the paperwork should be in order after our diplomat got OK from the Norwegian MFAs protocol and legal department (no breach of the conventions on economic activity as there will be no personal gain), has personally registered as a Norwegian importer of foodstuffs, registered the planned import of 25 kilos of coffee with the Food Safety Authorities, and discussed the formal procedures for custom handling.
The amount of coffee is small, but was limited as this can fit in the luggage during his upcoming holiday to Norway.
A buyer has been found in the form of a sporty, family run speciality roaster in Sandefjord. And soon, the very first specially imported coffee from Timor-Leste will be for sale at Håndverkeren Kaffebrenneri in Sandefjord.
From the embassy’s side, we hope that this “mini-project” can lend a helping hand in raising awareness for Timorese coffee in Norway and in the long run lead to a more substantial import from Timor-Leste.