Sare Asulau village is in the sub district Hatulia, Ermera district. Jose Martins is 58-years-old, his wife’s name is Virginha Maya. They have two sons. Their youngest is currently in junior high school. He has leprosy. Mr Jose is a rice famer, while Virginha Maya is a homemaker and spends most of her time providing for her extended family. There is no running water, no electricity, no stove or any other appliances. Water is pumped from a well, boiled on an open fire and left to cool before it can be drunk. There are no water tanks, no drainage. The roof of their house is a mixture of used corrugated iron and bound palm leaves. Gawain Sharp, a volunteer working on SRI rice trials for MCE-A, lived with the Martins for a week recently on a diet of rice and papaya. One night the children shot a chicken with a slingshot so they ate that. There are no wire fences, no chicken coops so eggs are hard to find. Illiteracy is prevalent and Mr. Jose works on his fields and plantations to provide sustenance and to afford to pay for his son’s education. They live right next to the mill which OXFAM NZ/MCEA provided along with a hand tractor. They are fortunate in comparison with many in the community because of this. Malnutrition is a problem in Jose’s community, everyone is very thin.
Food security is also an issue and upon harvest great care is taken to move the processed rice to a secure location.
Mr. Jose has an area of 4 ha of private land; two hectares are used as paddy fields, and two hectares for other crops such as corn. Before the cooperative was set up, Jose cultivated the paddy field with water buffalo.
Mr. Jose Martins joined the MCEA cooperative at Haburas Sare in April 2008 with 30 other people. The cooperative was formed and people commenced carrying out their roles from then. In October 2009, members of the cooperative received a dehusking machine from MCE-A with a 10%, down payment of $500.00. In December 2009 members of the cooperative Haburas Sare received a Hand Tractor also with a 10% down payment loan.
The Hand Tractor has replaced the buffalo once used; the energy and time saved with the use of the tractor at a rate of 1-2 people can now do the work of 4-8 per hectare of ploughing. The presence of a rice milling machine is also another reason to be proud: Mr. Jose says that in one day’s work with the mill 1-2 tons of rice can be produced compared to the traditional system where one day’s work would produce just 10-25 kg of rice production.
Also traditionally only 1-1 ½ tons of husked rice would be produced per hectare which was less than satisfactory coupled with other traditional means of production which compound issues of poverty and disease. But in February 2013, the implementation of SRI in Haburas Sare, on ½ a hectare of land, yielded 3 ½ tons of dry husked rice. This was processed in two day’s milling. The increases in productivity coupled with infrastructure meant that the farmers become increasingly confident that they can break out of poverty.
- In 2009 rice yields in Sare Haburas cooperatives totalled 22 Tons of 30 cooperative members
- In 2010 the rice harvest failed, as did the corn.
- In 2011 rice yields in Sare Haburas cooperatives totalled 28 Tons of 30 cooperative members
- In 2012 rice yields in Sare Haburas cooperatives amounted to 45 tons of 30 members of the cooperative. (There was no means of delivering any to the market)
- In 2013, rice yields in cooperative Haburas Sare are yet to be counted…but at last they can now get rice to the market through MCE-A.
- Mr. Jose earns money from the family’s rice grain yield, from livestock, their cows, pigs, goats and chickens. Jose had in a given year received US $800.00 – $1000.00.