The Republic of Timor-Leste got its independence in the year 2002 (Holthouse and Grenfell, p.45). Since independence, successive administrations have struggled to the country to the next level regarding economic recovery. However, the country remains the poorest in East of Asia. Most of the economic liberalization stopped some time back and currently, the large part of the economy depends on entirely foreign aid. The profits obtained from oil and gas accounts for almost 95% of the government’s revenue. Despite the fact that petroleum generates an enormous amount of funds, the funds are never included in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Foundation, p.2). According to Rajaratnam (p.9), Timor-Leste is still half-way in achieving its economic development goals.
- To determine the economic status of Timor-Leste
- To determine the status of agriculture and food situation in Timor-Leste
- To evaluate the societal barriers that influence agriculture in Timor-Leste
(a). Financial Situation of Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste has made considerable economic advancement since independence in the year 2002. The level of poverty reduction as well income growth has been facilitated by the discovery and development of oil and gas industries. Despite significant advancement in the economy, the structural and the institutional factors have continued to be great impediments of the economic freedom (Collins, p.1). The narrow economic base of Timor-Leste continues to slow development of the country. Additionally, the economy of Timor-Leste has continued to advance despite barriers due to petroleum funds. Nonetheless, the private sector has continued to supper a lot due to the burden of the environmental regulations and therefore this has controlled the development of private industries. Similarly, the high level of corruption in the country has continued to drag behind, the economic activity.
(b). Societal Issues Related to Population, Resources and Food in Timor-Leste
The increase in the business of Timor-Leste has grown in past years due to increased economic activities. The economic activities such oil and gas extraction have offered employment opportunities to the population (Holthouse and Grenfell, 2008). The high availability of the resources such as the gas and the oil has led to the immigration of other people from the neighboring countries and thus increasing the population. Before independence, the people of Timor-Leste stood at about 55,000. Upon the migration of refugees due to fear of violence, the number of people dropped to about 45,000 in the year (Holthouse and Grenfell, 2008). However, later in the year 2004, the gradual return of the refugees after election made the population shoot again to about 57,600 (Holthouse and Grenfell, 2008). The population increase represents 30 percent increase. Traditionally, the settlement of the people occupied the mountain regions majorly and not the interior parts of its coast. The majority of the population in Timor-Leste lives in rural areas and this account for 76%.
Regarding resources, the country has vast resources that include the oil, petroleum and natural gas. The oil in Timor-Leste is a natural resource that expected to last for decades. However, the exact magnitude of the resources is uncertain and cannot be estimated. The under exploration of the oil in Timor-Leste was due to the conflict that took place in the year 1999. Cite. Most of the oil fields are concentrated in Bayu Undan area, but the production only started two years after independence. The region produces 110,000 barrels of oil per day (Lundahl and Sjöholm, p.57). Despite, the tremendous resources, the country has achieved tiny economically. According to Lundahl and Sjöholm (p.67), natural resources in most countries sometimes have been a curse as it reduces economic performance. For example, most countries with extensive resources have experienced conflicts in the past.
(c). Role of Agriculture in Timor-Leste
The majority of Timor Leste people rely heavily on agriculture as their primary source of livelihood. The farming system in Timor Leste is purely Subsistence one and the market system used to be featured by barter trade as the transaction method. The trade played a significant role in the country’s economic development and only a few people in the country as well conversant with a cash economy. The agricultural system in Timor-Leste has been boosted through interventions of the International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) that has engaged small scale farmers.
A typical farming system lies midway between countries like Javanese that produce rice. The primary staple food in Timor-Leste is maize. Some of the crops grown are rice, root crops such as potatoe, cassava, peanut and vegetables. The development of the agriculture has led to the development of infrastructures such as ports for exportations and importations of various produce.
(d). Recent Progress (or Setbacks) in Timor-Leste
One of the recent advances areas that Timor-Leste has improved in includes oil and natural gas discovery. These delays have led to decreased employment rates. The institutions and the legal framework for governance have also been established to support the spirit of good and efficient governance.
(e). Barriers to Further Progress of Timor-Leste
One of the obstacles to the further development of Timor-Leste is the eye health issue. The majority of the productive population blind and this limits growth in not health but economic and social development. Eye health has remained a significant barrier in Timor-Leste (Goldsmith and Dinnen, p.1098). Additionally, the ambiguous relationship between Australia and Timor-Leste is also an obstacle to progress.
Timor-Leste is currently half way in achieving its millennium development goals. Timor-Leste is a young country that has made progress regarding economy, agriculture and governance. The establishment of a proper system of governance has led to the advancement of the country. Further, the availability of the resources such as oil and gas has also led to its development.
The elimination of the poverty in Timor-Leste needs additional steps that would ensure that corruption is something of the past in the government. There is also need to use modern methods of farming such as biotechnology to increase food production. The government of Timor-Leste should invest a lot of resources in educating people on the modern methods of agriculture. Another recommendation is that the government should also enact national policies to be followed by all sectors.
Collins, B. (2017) Agreement to boost Timor Leste economy. Available at: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/325672/agreement-to-boost-timor-leste-economy (Accessed: 2 March 2017).
Foundation, T.H. (2017) Timor-Leste economy: Population, GDP, inflation, business, trade, FDI, corruption. Available at: http://www.heritage.org/index/country/timorleste (Accessed: 1 March 2017).
Rajaratnam, J. K., Marcus, J. R., Flaxman, A. D., Wang, H., Levin-Rector, A., Dwyer, L., … & Murray, C. J. (2010). Neonatal, postneonatal, childhood, and under-5 mortality for 187 countries, 1970–2010: a systematic analysis of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 4. The Lancet, 375(9730), 1988-2008.
Holthouse, K., & Grenfell, D. (2008). Social and economic development in Oecusse, Timor-Leste. Globalism Institute, RMIT University.
Lundahl, M., & Sjöholm, F. (2008). The oil resources of Timor-Leste: curse or blessing?. The pacific review, 21(1), 67-86.
Goldsmith, A., & Dinnen, S. (2007). Transnational police building: critical lessons from Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands. Third World Quarterly, 28(6), 1091-1109.