Growing sustainable livelihoods in West Timor
Waluwanja gets up for work every day at 5am. After a drink of hot coffee, he’s straight into his back garden, clearing out weeds, watering each plant and making sure no pests are getting in. He grows all sorts of vegetables, but lately he’s been testing out mustard greens, carrots and rice paddies, which he will sell wholesale to street vendors in his community. When a crop becomes ready for harvest, he cleans, prepares and delivers the produce direct to his customers one by one.
Waluwanja learned how to run a productive garden business through UnitingWorld’s partner TLM in West Timor. In one of the poorest provinces in Indonesia, TLM acknowledge that people’s ability to improve their lives and their communities depends on opportunities to earn a sustainable income.
A few years ago, Waluwanja visited a community garden project run by TLM that produces food and teaches people about sustainable agriculture. He walked away with knowledge and inspiration to prepare the large plot of land behind his home to grow fresh food as well as his income.
Then when he lost his job, it was the perfect time to commit to the project.
After slow beginnings, hard work and many 5am mornings experimenting with different organic fertilizers and planting strategies, he started to build a customer base among the street vendors around his village.
He says his secret is delivering early and delivering fresh.
“I have more than 15 vegetable sellers around the village and they are happy to buy from me because I always deliver early in the morning so the vegetables they are selling are still fresh.”
The income it generated enabled him to meet his daily needs, but Waluwanja realised that if he was going to grow the business even more, he was going to need help. So he reached out to some of his neighbours to work with him and he’s now thrilled that he’s creating incomes for others.
Waluwanja’s garden business is now so productive that at different times of year it generates an income averaging between IDR 6 – 18,000,000 or AUD $545 – $1,636 per month. Lately he’s been keeping busy building a new stall to sell his vegetables and other daily necessities direct from the front of his home.
Waluwanja says he works so hard because he wants to earn enough to be able to send his five children to school and eventually university.
“Thank you so much TLM Foundation for giving me a lot of knowledge about agriculture and village governance, so that I can grow to become a successful farmer”.
This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) and impacted the lives of 27,162 people like Waluwanja in 2020-2021.
Thank you ANCP and our supporters! We can’t do this life-changing work without you.