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Agro-Fuels projects in Timor-Leste
Projeitu Agrokombustivel sira iha Timor-Leste

4 December 2008

La'o Hamutuk continues to collect, circulate and analyse information on agrofuels in Timor-Leste to promote accountability and democratic decision-making, as well as to help Timor-Leste adopt the best possible practices for agriculture, energy and guaranteeing the right to food.

We welcome information and commentary from all sources.

Projects discussed below include:

La’o Hamutuk kontinua halibur, hafahe no halo analiza ba informasaun sira kona-ba agrokombustivel iha Timor-Leste atu promove prosesu foti desizaun ida ne’ebé ho akuntabilide no demokratiku, liu-liu atu ajuda Timor-Lesta adopta pratika ne’ebé di’ak liu ba area agrikultura, enerjia no garante direitu ba aihan nian.

Ami ho ksolok sei simu informasaun no komentariu husi parte hot-hotu.

Projeitu sira ne’ebé atu deskuti iha karaik inklui:

Basic Concepts

'Agrofuels' refers to agriculture for fuel, where agricultural products are grown (often in large-scale monocultures, where only a single crop is planted) specifically for fuel and exported out of the ecosystem.

Two types of agrofuels are currently used:

  • Bioethanol, which is produced from plants with a high sugar or starch content, such as sugar-cane, maize and cassava.

  • Biodiesel, which is produced from plant oils such as palm oil and jatropha.

These are referred to as first generation agrofuels. Second generation agrofuels include using cellulosic material, and would require less land space. At the moment second generation agrofuels are very expensive, and not yet commercially viable.

Agrofuels can be used in a similar way to other fuels – they can be blended with petrol to run cars, for cooking or to run electric generators.

Agrofuels are often promoted as an alternative to fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. However some agrofuels produce as much greenhouse gases as fossil fuels, particularly when forests which store CO2 are cut down to develop agrofuel monocultures.

Growing large-scale monocultures, as occurs with agrofuels, can also have a high impact on local ecosystems. Unlike biodiverse environments, monocultures lack the safeguards to protect against pests and therefore require chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Agrofuels are referred to by some people as 'biofuels', which is a term used to describe many different processes. It can also refer to the small-scale use of plant and animal products (such as husks and dung) for energy. The use of these products for energy is often developed with consideration to their alternative uses as animal feed or to provide nutrients to improve soil.

Agrofuels may also be referred to as a biomass. Biomass refers to living and recently dead plant material that can be used as fuel or for industrial production.

Biogas, methane gas produced by the biological breakdown of organic matter, is one form of small-scale conversion of organic matter into energy currently being used in Timor-Leste.

Konseitu Báziku

'Agrokombustivel' refere ba agrikultura ne’ebé orienta atu produz kombustivel, ne’ebé kuda produtu agrikultura sira (dala barak nu’udar monokultura ho skala ne’ebé boot ho ai-horis oin ida de’it) espesialmente ba kombustivel no eksporta sai husi ekosistema.

Agrokombustivel ne’ebé oras ne’e uza, iha tipu rua:

  • Bioetanol, halo husi ai-horis sira ne’ebé iha masin-midar barak ka iha amidu (starch content), hanesan tohu, batar no aifarina.

  • Biodiesel, halo husi ai-horis sira ne’ebé iha mina hanesan mina palmeira no Ai-oan Mutin (jatropa).

Sira ne’e refere ba gerasaun primeiru agrokombustivel nian. Gerasaun segundu agrokombustivel nian inklui uza material cellulosic, no sei rekere rai ho luan kiik liu. Iha oras ne’e gerasaun segundu agrokombustivel nian karun liu, no komersialmente seidauk viabel.

Agrokombustivel bele uza hanesan mos kombustivel sira seluk – sira bele kahur ho petroleu atu uza ba kareta, tein ka hamoris jerador.

Agrokombustivel dala barak ema promove nu’udar alternativa ba kombustivel husi fosil hanesan fatuk anar metan, mina rai no gas natural. Maibe agrokombustivel balu produz gas estufa barak hanesan de’it ho kombustivel husi fosil, partikularmente wainhira ai-laran ne’ebé rai CO2 tesi hotu atu dezenvolve monokultura agrokombustivel.

Kuda monokultura iha skala ne’ebé boot, hanesan akontese ho agrokombustivel, mos sei bele lori impaktu boot ba ekosistema lokal. La hanesan ho meio-ambiente ne’ebé iha biodiversidade, monokultura laduun iha protesaun atu tahan hasoru peste tan ne’e presiza raimetan kimiku no pestisida.

Ema balu refere Agrokombustivel nu’udar “biokombustivel”, termu ida ne’ebé uza hodi deskreve prosesu barak ne’ebé la hanesan. Ida ne’e mos bele refere ba uza iha skala kiik produsaun husi ai-horis no animal (hanesan foer husi animal ka ai-horis) ba enerjia. Utilizasaun husi produtu sira ne’e ba enerjia dala barak dezenvolve ho konsiderasaun ba sira nia funsaun alternativa nu’udar aihan ba animal ka atu sai nutrisaun ne’ebé habokur rai.

Agrokombustivel bele dala ruma mos refere hanesan biomass. Biomas refere ba material husi ai-horis ne’ebé moris ka foin mate ne’ebé bele uza hanesan kombustivel ba produsaun industrial.

Biogas, gas methana ne’ebé produz husi “avariasaun biologico” husi materia organika, mak forma ida husi konversaun ho skala kiik husi materia organika ba enerjia ne’ebé oras ne’e dadaun uza iha Timor-Leste.

GT Leste Biotech Sugar-Cane Plantation and Processing Plants

In early 2008, the Timor-Leste Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indonesian company GT Leste Biotech for a $100 million, 100,000 hectare sugar cane plantation, sugar plant, ethanol plant and power generation facility. The project, which will last for fifty years, is planned for Covalima, Manatuto, Viqueque and Lautem districts.


GT Leste Biotech - Plantasaun Tohu no Fabrika Prosesamentu

Iha inisiu tinan 2008, Timor-Leste nia Ministru Agrikultura no Peska asina Memorandum de Intendimentu ida ho Komapanha Indonesia nian GT Leste Biotech ho osan tokon US$100, atu kuda plantasaun tohu ho area nia luan 100,000 ha, atu fo apoiu ba fabrika masmidar, fabrika ethanol no fasilidade “jenerasaun enerjia” nian. Projeitu ne’e nia durasaun ba too tinan 50 nia laran, no bazea ba planeamentu ne’ebé iha fatin sei halo iha Distritu Covalima, Manatuto, Viqueque no Distritu Lautem.


La’o Hamutuk Public Meeting on the proposed GT Leste Biotech Sugarcane Plantation

MP3 files with Tetum audio from this meeting, the Minister's presentation (6 MB), and a radio program (14 MB) from La'o Hamutuk on this topic, can be dowloaded from here or are available from our Farol office for a small fee.

On 7 November 2008 La’o Hamutuk held a public meeting on the proposed sugarcane plantation. Presenters included the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Youanto Kenchana Jaya (Timor-Leste Director for GT Leste Biotech), Ecologist Rui Pinto and Ines Martins from La’o Hamutuk.

The Minister announced that a person from the Ministry together with company representatives have been undertaking a viability study. (A viability study examines whether the project is commercially viable). He appeared to confuse a viability study with an Environmental Impact Assessment and Social Impact Assessments of the project, which should be independent and look at community needs, rather than the needs of the company. (The viability study will be carried out by multinational agrofuels company Bronzeoak and a staff member from the Ministry for Agriculture and Fisheries).

The Minister said he would be happy to cancel the MOU if the viability study was not positive, but that he alone could not make decisions of the project but other Ministers must be involved. He said the project would need approval from the Council of Ministers and the land-use contract would be prepared by Land and Property. He said that the government would respect the role of Parliament to annul any decision on a GT Leste Biotech contract, and the decision could be taken to Parliament if Parliament asked. He emphasized that farmers could not only grow food, but that the country needed to facilitate investors to develop jobs.

Youanto Kenchana Jaya discussed the economic benefits of the project for Timor-Leste. (Powerpoint presentation) He highlighted that the company was happy to follow the government’s requirements as to how they should operate. He said the project would create employment and infrastructure (such as roads, irrigation and electricity). GT Leste Biotech would fund and undertake dam construction, which would be maintained and managed by government, with the company accessing part of a dam’s resources. Youanto said that community support was important if the project is to go ahead and outlined plans for a training facility and hospital.

Mr. Jaya outlined a factory site would need to be close to a port, water source, road access and flat. He tried to allay fears, saying that the project would not use places of importance such as forests or historic sites and would not use land where people currently lived. He defined ‘unproductive land’ as land not currently being farmed. He did not know how much land the company would use, or how much sugar or ethanol GT Leste Biotech would produce.

Ecologist Rui Pinto spoke about the environmental impacts of sugarcane plantations, particularly the impacts on community access to water; waste and pollution; and the impacts of pesticides and chemicals. (Tetum synopsis of presentation) He said that the land the company was going to use would not be ‘unproductive land’, but good land that was important to wetland ecosystems. He asked the government and GT Leste Biotech for a map of the areas where the proposed plant will be in order to analyze the possible impacts and speak to communities. He also outlined important elements to include in an Environmental Impact Assessment.

Ines Martins discussed her visit to workers in sugarcane plantations near Sao Paulo, Brazil. She said that although companies said they offered good working conditions, good wages, health programs and pensions workers did not receive these benefits. She said that some workers used drugs in order to work long hours, and that there were many health impacts such as cancers, respiratory illnesses and birth defects from the use of chemical pesticides.

Moderator Yasinta Lujina also noted that machines can be used in sugarcane plantations, which creates very few jobs. If the plantation is to create a lot of jobs, the cost of workers must be less than using machines which often led to poor conditions for workers.

La’o Hamutuk nia Enkontru Publiku kona-ba Proposta Plantasaun Tohu husi GT Leste Biotech

Bele download dokumentu elektroniku iha MP3 no audio husi enkontru ne’e nian, aprezentasaun Ministru Agrikultura nian (6 MB), no Programa Radio (14 MB) kona-ba asuntu ne’e bele hetan iha ami nia servisu fatin iha Farol, Dili.

Iha 7 Novembru 2008, La’o Hamutuk organiza enkontru publiku ida kona-ba planu plantasaun tohu iha Timor-Leste. Orador iha Enkontru Publiku ne’e inklui Ministru Agrikultura no Peska Ir. Mariano Sabino, Direktur GT Leste Biotech nian iha Timor-Leste, Youanto Kenchana, ekolojista Rui Pinto no Ines Martins husi La’o Hamutuk.

Ministru fo sai katak ema husi ministeriu ne’e nian hamutuk ho reprezentante husi kompańa halo ona estudu viabilidade. (Estudu viabilidade evalua se projeitu ne’e viabel komersialmente). Iha konfuzaun uitoan kona-ba estudu viabilidade no Asesmentu ba Impaktu Ambiental no Impaktu Sosial husi projeitu ne’e, ne’ebé tenki independente no haree ba komunidade nia presizja, duke kompańa nia presiza. (Estudu viablidade sei hala’o husi kompańa multinasional ba agrokombustivel naran Bronzeoak no funsionariu husi Ministeriu Agrikultura no Peskas nian).

Ministru dehan katak nia sei kontente atu kansela MoU ne’e karik estudu viabilidade la pozitivu, maibe katak nia mesak labele halo desizaun ba projeitu ne’e, no Minsitru seluk mos tenki involve iha laran. Nia dehan projeitu sei presiza aprovasaun husi Konsellu Ministru no kontratu kona-ba uza rai nian sei prepara husi parte Terras e Propriedades nian. Nia dehan governu sei respeita poder Parlamentu Nasional nian atu anula tiha desizaun saida de’it kona-ba kontratu ho GT Leste Biotech, no desizaun ne’e bele lori ba Parlamentu karik Parlamentu husu. Nia enfatiza katak agrikultores labele kuda ai-han de’it, maibe nasaun ne’e presiza fasilita investidor atu kria servisu.

Youanto Kenchana diskute kona-ba benefísiu ekonomiku husi projeitu ne’e ba Timor-Leste (Aprezentasaun iha Power Point). Nia sublińa katak kompańa haksolok atu tuir rekerimentu husi governu kona-ba oinsa sira tenki hala’o operasaun. Nia dehan katak projeitu ne’e sei kria kampu servisu no mos infrastrutura (hanesan dalan, irigasaun no elektrisidade). GT Leste Biotech sei harii barazen ne’ebé ikus mai sei entrega ba governu atu maneza, no kompańa mos uza parte balu husi barazem ne’e. Youanto dehan katak suporta husi komunidade nian importante teb-tebes karik projeitu ne’e kontinua ba oin no sublina planu atu harii fasilidade treinamentu no hospital.

Mr. Jaya esplika katak fatin fabrika nian sei harii besik ho portu, fonte bee nian, asesu ba dalan no mos iha fatin tetuk. Nia koko atu halakon dezafiu, hodi dehan katak projeitu ne’e sei la uza fatin sira ne’ebé importante hanesan ailaran no mos fatin historiku sira no sei la uza rai ne’ebé oras ne’e ema hela ba. Nia defini “rai la produktivu” nu’udar rai ne’ebé oras ne’e ema la uza ba agrikultura. Nia seidauk hatene los rai luan oinsa mak kompańa sei uza no sei produs masinmidar no bioethanol too hira.

Ekolojista Rui Pinto diskute kona-ba impaktu ambiental husi plantasaun tohu, liu-liu impaktu ba iha komunidade nia asesu ba bee mos, foer husi fabrika no polusaun; no impaktu husi pestisida no materia kimiku sira. Nia dehan katak rai ne’ebé kompańa sira sei uza sei la’os rai ne’ebé “la produktivu”, maibe rai di’ak ne’ebé importante ba ekosistema rai bokon nian. Nia husi ba governu no ba kompańa kona-ba mapa area sira ne’ebé proposta plantasaun tohu ne’e sei hala’o atu nune’e bele halo analiza posibilidade impaktu ne’ebé mosu no koalia ba komunidade sira. Nia mos sublińa elementu importante ida atu inklui asesmentu ba impaktu ba meio-ambiente nian.

Ines Martins koalia kona-ba nia vizita ba servisu nain sira iha plantasaun tohu besik Sao Paulo, Brazil. Nia dehan katak maski kompańa sira hatoo ona katak sira sei oferese kondisaun servisu ne’ebé di’ak, salariu ne’ebé di’ak, programa saude no pensaun, traballador sira la simu benefísiu hirak ne’e. Nia dehan katak traballador balu uza droga atu tahan servisu iha oras naruk, no katak iha impaktu barak ba saude hanesan kankru, moras respiratoriu, defisiente wainhira moris, tanba uza pestisida kimika.

Moderador Yasinta Lujina mos fo nota ida katak makina bele uza iha plantasaun tohu nian, ne’ebé ikus mai kria kampu servisu uitoan de’it. Se plantasaun ne’e atu kria servisu ne’ebé barak, kustu ba traballiador sira sei sai kiik liu duke uza makina, ne’ebé ikus mai lori kondisaun ida ne’ebé la di’ak ba trabalahador sira.

Carabela Jatropha Biodiesel Facility

The November 2008 La'o Hamutuk Bulletin includes an extensive article on this project.

On 14 July 2005, Enviroenergy Developments Australia (EDA, from NSW, Australia, a subsidiary of the MPI Group) and Daba-Loqui, a Timorese company, entered into a partnership to develop jatropha plantations in Timor-Leste and other territories. They also planned an oil extraction plant in Timor-Leste, to extract oil from seeds of the jatropha plant and convert it into biodiesel fuel.

On 13 February 2008, EDA signed a Deed of Agreement with the Secretary of State for Energy Policy on behalf of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. The agreement allows the company access to 59 hectares of 'industrial land' on the waterfront at Carabella, near Baucau (120km east of Dili). This access will either be through outright purchase or a 30 year lease, with options to renew for an additional 60 years. According to the agreement this was to be arranged by 1 June 2008.

The site will be developed to process jatropha seeds from Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and India, as well as from Timor-Leste, intended for markets in Australia, the USA and Europe. A Bio-Diesel Extraction and Refining Facility, Jatropha Pellet Facility and Jatropha Pellet Plant will be developed here, with an estimated capital investment of $550 million dollars over 10 years, with EDA receiving “concessionary tax treatment.”

The government will provide land to the project, and also act as an 'arbitrator' in any land disputes between private owners and the company.

Fasilidade Biodiesel Ai-oan Mutin Carabela

Buletin Novembru 2008 La’o Hamutuk nian inklui artiklu boot ida kona-ba projeitu ne’e.

Iha loron 14 Jullu 2005, Enviroenergy Development Australia (EDA, husi NSW, Australia, subsidiariu ida husi MPI Group) no Daba Loqui, kompańa Timor nian ida, komesa parseriadade atu dezenvolve plantasaun Ai-oan Mutin iha Timor-Leste no teritoriu sira seluk. Sira mos planu ba planta ekstrasaun mina nian ida iha Timor-Leste, atu hasai mina husi ai-oan Mutin nia musan no konverte ba kombustivel biodiesel.

Iha loron 13 Fevereiru 2008, EDA asina akordu ida ho Sekretáriu Estadu Pólitika Enerjétika RDTL nian. Akordu ne’e fo lisensa ba kompańa, asesu ba rai 59 ha iha area industrial iha tasi ibun iha Carabela, besik ba Baucau (120 km parte Leste husi Dili). Asesu ne’e bele liu husi hola rai ka aluga ba tinan 30, ho opsaun bele aumenta tan tinan 60. Tuir akordu ne’e, buat ne’e sei hahú hala’o iha loron 1 Juńu 2008.

Fatin ne’e sei harii atu prosesa Ai-oan Mutin husi Indonesia, Filipina no Malaysia, Thailandia no India, no mos husi Timor-Leste rasik, ho nia merkadu ba Australia, USA no Eropa. Fasilidade hasai no refinasaun biodisesel ida, Fasilidade Pellet Ai-oan Mutin sei dezenvolve iha ne’e, ho estimasaun kapital investimenru toko $550 durante tinan 10, no EDA simu “tratamentu konsesionariu ba taxa”.

Governu sei fo rai ba projeitu ne’e, no mos sei sai nu’udar ‘arbitru’ iha disputa ruma kona ba rai entre rai nain no kompańa.

Komor Enterprise Ltd. corn/jatropha project

On 21 August 2008, the Secretary of State for Energy Policy signed an agreement with South Korean company Komor Enterprise Ltd to support the company’s project to develop 100,000 hectares of corn and jatropha for agrofuels in Lautem, Bobonaro, Baucau, Same and Viqueque for export markets. The MOU does not specify whether land will be leased from the government, although it raises the possibility of partial financing from a Timor-Leste ‘agriculture fund’.

Komor Enterprise Ltd. Projeitu Batar/Ai-oan Mutin

Iha loron 21 Agustu 2008, Sekretáriu Estadu Pólitika Energétika asina akordu ida ho kompańa Korea do Sul Komor Enterprise Ltd atu suporta kompańa ne’e nia projeitu atu dezenvolve 100.000 ha batar no Ai-oan Mutin ba agrokombustivel, iha Lautem, Bobonaro, Baucau, Same, no Viqueque atu eksporta. MoU ne’e la espesifika karik rai ne’e sei aluga husi governu ka komunidade nia rai, maski ida ne’e hamosu posibilidade ba finansiamentu balu husi Timor-Leste nia “fundu ba agrikultura”.

Jacobsen Elektro AS jatropha and electricity generation project

In June 2008 the Secretary of State for Energy Policy signed an agreement with Jacobsen Elektro from Norway for the company to build jatropha curcas oil extraction facilities and a power plant which would use locally produced biofuel/agrofuel and imported heavy oil for local energy needs. The jatropha seeds would be provided by local cooperatives.

According to Jacobsen Elektro, the company previously installed electricity meters in Timor-Leste and they specialize in heavy fuel plants. Bio-diesel from jatropha would be far more compatible with normal diesel fuel than with heavy oil. The agreement would see RDTL pay Jacobsen to Build and Operate the Jatropha oil extraction and power plant, eventually transferring it to RDTL.

Jacobsen Elektro AS Ai-oan Mutin no Projeitu Generasaun Elektrisidade

Iha Juńu 2008 Sekretáriu Estadu Pólitika Enerjétika asina ekordu ida ho Jacobsen Elektro husi Norwegia atu harii fasilidade atu halo estrasaun ba Jatropha Curcas no gerador ida ne’ebé sei uza agrokombustivel ne’ebé produz iha rai laran no oleu todan importadu atu hatan ba nesesidade enerjia iha rai laran. Fini Ai-oan Mutin nian sei prepara husi koperativa lokal sira.

Tuir Jacobsen Elektro, kompańa ne’e uluk instala meteran elektrisidade nian iha Timor-Leste no sira espesializa iha planta kombustivel todan. Biodiesel husi Ai-oan Mutin sei kompativel liu ho diesel kombustivel normal duke ho oleu pezadu. Akordu ne’e sei haree RDTL selu Jacobsen atu harii no opera estrasaun mina Ai-oan Mutin nian no mos Fabrika Enerjia, eventualmente transfere ba RDTL.


The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
Rua D. Alberto Ricardo, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3321040 or +670-77234330
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