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Permatil (Timor-Leste)

A short history

Formed in 2000, at the start of Timor-Leste’s independence, Permatil (Permaculture Timor-Leste) has steadily grown, both in size, in influence and in the scope of its work. With a dedicated team of Timorese staff and volunteers, supported by international volunteers and supporters, Permatil are leaders in rebuilding and regenerating the country in a sustainable, culturally appropriate way.

As Permaculture grew, it become clear that training and demonstration sites went hand-in-hand with community-based development. It could help guide growth, education, livelihoods and better agricultural pratice, helping people to improve their local environment and participate in their local economies.

Permatil’s initiatives were eagerly embraced by Timorese people as a unique model for bringing true sustainability and resilience to their community. With no need for outside intervention, farmers and individuals were empowered to decide what was appropriate for their families and their communities and take the action they needed to regenerate the environment themselves.

With 80% of Timorese families reliant on subsistence farming and 50% of Timorese children malnourished, Permatil is addressing these challenges through techniques that use local resources, appropriate technology and low-cost solutions.

Permatil continues to influence policy and practice of NGOs, education institutions and Timorese Government departments. It trains hundreds of future trainers each year – ranging from NGO and government representatives to community leaders, cooperative representatives and local farmers – in areas including water and soil restoration and conservation, sustainable land management and organic farming – working directly with communities across Timor-Leste on water shed management, natural spring repair, reforestation, agro-forestry, aquaculture, compost toilets, cook stoves, plant nurseries and much more.

In recognition of the role of young people in ensuring the long-term sustainability of Timor-Leste and our planet, Permatil has focused particularly on initiatives to help youth lead the way for a sustainable future. As a result, Timor-Leste was the first country to incorporate a permaculture school gardens program in the national primary curriculum. Through the program, 254 schools so far have planted the seed for sustainable practices in younger generations, with more than 41,500 students and their families directly impacted.

Permatil established the PermaYouth in Action movement in Timor-Leste – bringing together young people to learn about sustainable agriculture, local food, caring for the environment, water conservation, leadership and working as a team. Since 2008, over 5,500 young people have participated in PermaYouth camps, equipping them with skills that can be taken back and shared directly with their communities.

Over the years, Permatil has developed comprehensive education resources, helping share environmental sustainability knowledge and tools in a relevant and culturally appropriate way. This includes the original Permaculture Guidebook, published in 2008 and permaculture education syllabus and lesson plans in 2014, for the official national primary school curriculum, as well as the agro-ecology program for the GIZ agro-ecology project, and an organic gardening illustrated reader, specifically designed for remote, female and illiterate users. Permatil is also an ongoing contributor for numerous course curricula and content for international NGOs and the University of Dili, Timor-Leste.

In 2018, Permatil published the updated and expanded international edition of the guidebook. A gift from Timor-Leste to the world. To date The Tropical Permaculture Guidebook – international edion, published in English and Tetum languages, has been accessed in over 160 countries and 30 Territories, with over 128,000 resources downloaded. Four additional transleted editions in key tropical languages of French, Portuguese, Spanish and Indonesian/Bahasa are being planned. This will provide access for people across the global to learn about permaculture in their own language.

In 2019, the seeds of Permatil Global were sown, to provide the infrastructure needed to scale-up and drive the lives of millions of people across the globe.

Permatil Global is a not-for-profit foundation established in Australia in 2020. Read about Permatil Global here.

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