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Fishermen Making Profit with High-Value Crab Sales

19 December 2013

TIMOR-LESTE - Over the past two years, 80 producer groups in coastal districts in Timor-Leste have seen steady increases in additional income through the sale of crabs. The profits from the crab sales help these fishers cover important household expenses including school fees, medical expenses and food.

ACDI/VOCA’s Mud Crab Fish Cultivation project, funded by the Food for Progress Programme of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), introduced these producer groups to the skills and technologies needed to catch crabs in the wild and fatten them to a market weight of 600 grams.

Such crabs fetch high market prices, creating an opportunity for the fishers to earn better incomes. The fishers had not previously tapped this market opportunity because they lacked the knowledge and technology to cultivate and fatten crabs.

Local Partners Join Effort

The Mud Crab Fish Cultivation project works in cooperation with local allies, including the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the National Directorate for Fisheries and Aquaculture of Timor-Leste, to introduce mud crab and fish cultivation as a supplementary income source for marginalised fishers and their coastal communities. It shows the producers how to rear and cultivate mud crabs in cages, pens and ponds.

The project trains producer groups in how to build bamboo and palm stalk cages, traps and pens using locally sourced materials. Producer group members also receive trainings in basic business skills and leadership.

Fisher Sees Impact

Joao Bosco, one of the producer group leaders in the Vemasse Subdistrict, has been applying what he learned from the project. He collects crabs and fattens them in bamboo cages and pens that he learned to build through ACDI/VOCA’s trainings.

Although buyers are ready to purchase the crabs at the weight they are caught, Bosco fattens his crabs to receive a higher price from buyers like Kmanek, a leading supermarket chain in Timor-Leste that works with the project in Dili.

The impact on Bosco’s income has been significant. During the past year, he sold 142 crabs for a total of $361. Prior to working with mud crabs, his average annual net income was $3,082 from fish and rice sales. This added income from the mud crab sales helps pay for medical expenses, food and his daughter’s school fees.

“I would like to thank USDA and ACDI/VOCA for their efforts to bring new ideas to improve our lives and skills and help us improve our family’s economic situation,” Bosco said.

“This project has been very helpful to me because it links me directly to a good market, and I do not waste my time waiting for the buyers along the streets as I used to do in the past.”

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