Mana Teresa Maia – Our Female Coffee Farmer from Letefoho
Meet our farmer, Teresa Fatima de Deus Maia, mother of two and group leader from Lebudu Leten, Letefoho, Ermera Municipal. Teresa Maia is one of our smallholder farmers in Letefoho, and she is an inspirational farmer who is working towards quality coffee production. Teresa is leading one of farmers’ groups started by Peace-Winds Japan in 2003. She has 11 members with total farm17 hectare and they produce organic Arabica coffee.
During coffee season, Teresa will take the time to visit different farms and help monitor processing done by her group members. In addition to being made available at Letefoho Specialty Coffee Roaster, coffee from Teresa’s group is also exported overseas. Her leadership and active participation in coffee reflects her motivation and determination to improve her living through quality coffee production, where she hopes to generate better income for her family and her group members.
“From the beginning, it seemed very difficult for us to produce high-quality coffee following quality standards that we learnt from Peace-Winds Japan. We must do an additional amount of work with extra effort to improve the quality of our coffee. Many farmers are hesitant to join the group as they feel it is easier to sell their coffee cherry to other cooperatives or companies without taking all this additional work. However, after we received our payment from the coffee that we processed and sold to Peace-Winds Japan we could see the difference. We are able to generate more income from the coffee we processed” – says Teresa.
Apart from coffee they also grow staple foods like cassava, sweet potatoes, corn and red beans. However, they are only able to produce small amount of staple food and it is not enough to cover their annual food consumption for their farm. Coffee has been the main source of income for Teresa Maia and her family, just like most of the coffee farmers in Timor-Leste. “We are able to use income from our coffee to purchase food, build our house and send our children to school” added Teresa.
With her hard work and her farmers’ group, our customers can enjoy the coffee that they process at our coffee shop, Letefoho Specialty Coffee Roaster in Dili. Their coffee has also been exported to overseas as specialty grade.
Last year, with support from Peace-Winds Japan and Café Brisa Serena Unipessoal, Teresa was selected to participate for a coffee TV Program “To’os Kafe” organised by Timor-Leste Coffee Association with support from development partners. During the TV Program she was able to work and exchange knowledge between farmers and baristas and learn more about primary coffee processing from an International Coffee Expert from Colombia.
In October 2018, she also participated in the closing ceremony for Festival Kafe Timor and worked with baristas from Letefoho Specialty Coffee Roaster to promote Lebudu Leten Coffee.
To celebrate International Womens Day Teresa also want to encourage other female to lead “I really hope to continue my work and to support other coffee farmers to improve our coffee quality and I would like to encourage other female farmers, especially young female to take the lead and work in the coffee sector like me as I believe they can also become a group leader like me.”