(DILI, Timor-Leste) – The National Cooperative Business Association’s CLUSA International program (NCBA CLUSA) hosted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she toured the Cooperativa Café Timor (CCT) operation in the Asian Pacific’s newest nation of Timor-Leste on September 6, 2012.
Part of her scheduled trip to east Asia, Secretary Clinton was greeted by women cooperative workers of the USAID- funded CCT cooperative project which supplies fair-trade certified, organic coffee beans to global markets. Begun in 1994, CCT, with support from NCBA CLUSA and Cooperative Business International, is a global trading company. In 1995, the US-based retail chain, Starbucks Coffee, began importing this product, which now serves as Timor-Leste’s second largest export, generating some $10 million per year.
During her tour of CCT/NCBA’s coffee production plant in the capital city of Dili, Secretary Clinton met several of the women workers and learned about the entire process. “It’s delicious,” stated Secretary Clinton after tasting the final product. “Can I take some home to my husband? He loves coffee,” she stated.
Secretary Clinton, in a joint press conference with Timor-Leste Prime Minister said, "I was so impressed by the role that the cooperative has in creating economic opportunity and transforming the lives of people in the rural districts, and we're going to look for additional ways to support economic development projects that work as well as that one. Projects like these reflect the model of partnership that the United States is pursuing across the Asia Pacific. These are partnerships rooted in our shared values, that deliver concrete benefits to people, and that help countries become stronger and more capable over time so they too can play their role in solving regional and global challenges."
In 2002 Timor-Leste gained its independence and began to rebuild its devastated infrastructure and economy. The CCT cooperative has played a substantial role in job creation and improved income generation for much of the rural population of Timor-Leste.
The CCT cooperative is the largest private employer in Timor-Leste with 23,000 famers and 350 full time staff, employing a seasonal workforce of nearly 3,000. Using proceeds from coffee sales, CCT established Clinic Café Timor, a rural healthcare network of clinics and mobile health services to provide healthcare for marginalized people in the rural coffee growing regions who do not have access to government health services. Currently the system serves more than one sixth of Timor-Leste’s population.
“CCT/NCBA is a wonderful example of a public-private partnership with a local cooperative that creates jobs, trains local workers, and builds the local economy,” says NCBA CLUSA’s Vice President, Amy Coughenour Betancourt. “Secretary Clinton saw during her visit the important role of cooperatives in strengthening global agriculture and securing economic and food security for thousands of rural families.”
For more information on NCBA CLUSA’s groundbreaking work, visit www.NCBA.coop.
Headquartered in Washington, DC NCBA’s CLUSA International Program (NCBA CLUSA) is an international development organization with offices in 10 countries including Senegal, Niger, Kenya, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, El Salvador, Indonesia and Timor-Leste providing sustainable community development in agriculture and food security, community based healthcare, democracy and governance, and natural resource management.