One of the most significant changes around town must be the transformation at the national hospital in Dili. Two years ago, I would have been tempted to fly to Darwin to get an ingrown toenail attended to, but now the national hospital is starting to look fairly good.
It was held back for a long time by the large number of IDPs living in tents scattered across the hospital campus but since their move a couple of months ago, the renovations have continued. Give it another 6 months and it should look pretty nice. And there are no wandering pigs or chooks on the grounds anymore.
Oxfam have just released a revised report on the food supply situation and it does pose a warning about the ability of TL to feed itself. In theory, there ought to be enough arable land and water to produce adequate supplies but the whole infrastructure around food production is a long way from being able to do this.
A few months back, I dropped into a farm just outside Maubisse while on the way back from Mt. Ramelau. Unlike most rural properties, it looked like a market garden and I wondered who they sold their stuff to. It turned out that they had no mechanism to get this stuff to Dili. No transport of their own and no established mechanism for uniting buying and seller. (I drafted up some text for a sign and told them to put it facing the oncoming traffic so they can’t miss it – I wonder if they did do this.)
Apparently USAid have helped setup such a mechanism. I don’t know if that particular property is part of it, but a group called “Zero Star Company” (operating as Timor-Leste Fresh) are selling fruit and (mainly) vegetables by the crate and doing home delivery. With the closing down of many of the street-side markets, it will probably affect the expat buyer the most and fortuitously, this new delivery procedure will probably appeal to expats most.
Maubisse is about 2 hours drive from Dili in the hills. It is much cooler and provides better conditions for growing some of your typical western favoured vegetable items – broccoli for one. This is also the place for the premium coffee.