Consultant - Aquaculture Strategy Development - Dili, Timor-Leste

Programming Dili, Timor-Leste (East Timor)



Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action—helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.


Since establishing operations in Timor-Leste in 2007, we have earned a reputation for innovative and high quality programming. We promote a community-led, market-based approach to addressing key challenges to improved wellbeing through greater resilience, resolved root causes of poverty, and inclusive economic growth so that Timor-Leste is able to thrive beyond oil.


Purpose / Project Description:

In the Timor-Leste context, the aquaculture system has a direct and immediate ability to increase disaster resistance and food self-sufficiency. Despite 82.9% of Timorese families owning livestock, only 34% of children aged 6-23 months have adequate dietary diversity. Homestead animal products are instead frequently sold or used at cultural ceremonies before they are consumed in the household, and rarely consumed by women and children. Freshwater inland aquaculture is ideally suited to address this danger for low-income smallholder farmers. Recognizing this, the Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) has made improving aquaculture performance one of its key priorities.


Building from successes under the COMPAC-TL program, Mercy Corps has developed a layered programming portfolio focused on growth in the freshwater inland aquaculture system. Since the COMPAC-TL program ended in 2016, there have been significant developments in the aquaculture sector, including increased capacity of a breed stock hatchery by MAF with support from WorldFish and a changing landscape of potential investors, prompting the need for a updated and refined approach to private sector-led development of the inland freshwater aquaculture sector.


Consultant Objectives:

Mercy Corps seeks a consultant to develop a comprehensive, private sector-led, inland freshwater Aquaculture Strategy for the country office. This strategy will detail out a clear path forward to guide our engagement in the sector, as well as provide supplemental materials to help ensure quality control of existing programming in aquaculture and tools to support the investment of future private sector partners. The strategy will focus on business development within the aquaculture sector, with the goal of improving nutrition and economic security by increasing the availability of, and access to tilapia.


Consultant Activities:

The Consultant will:

  • Develop a workplan for the consultancy and refine based on feedback from MCTL
  • Conduct formative research in order to develop a community led market driven approach to increasing food, nutrition and economic security through a comprehensive tilapia sector growth strategy, with a heavy emphasis on private sector investments around hatcheries, extension, feed and aggregation services. The research would include a desk review of existing aquaculture related policies and data for Timor-Leste and the region, key informant interviews with market actors (farmers, feed sellers, hatcheries, etc), and site visits to key fish production sites in the country (subsistence farmers, commercial farmers, hatchery).
  • Conduct a quality assessment of current inland freshwater aquaculture ponds at subsistence, hatchery and commercial level and provide a final report with recommendations for quality improvement at each level
  • Develop a strategy for Mercy Corps engagement in inland freshwater Aquaculture
    • Outline current state of production, demand and the enabling environment
    • Estimate potential for future growth and investment needs, as well as potential associated risks, disincentives, and key enabling prerequisites
    • Identify Mercy Corps’ strategic areas for investment across fish production and marketing, fish feed and opportunities for influence in the regulatory environment, clearly outlining next steps and recommendations
    • Annexes include: Workplan for activities, results chain/s that clarify pathways to grow the inland tilapia fish sector, covering fish feed, fish production and fish marketing
  • Conduct a cost-benefit analysis for private sector investors in hatcheries (1) commercial farms (2) and subsistence farms (3)
  • Using qualitative methods, conduct a quality assessment of fish farmer at hatchery, commercial, and subsistence levels with recommendations to improve quality, if needed
  • Create a 2 page brief on aquaculture that can be shared with future potential hatchery investors
  • Develop a detailed business model for hatcheries


Consultant Deliverables/Timeline:

The Consultant will provide:

  1. Draft of Timor-Leste’s Aquaculture Strategy -+20 working days
  2. Final Version of Timor-Leste’s Aquaculture Strategy - +5 working days
  3. Fish Farm Quality Assessment Report - +2 working days
  4. Cost benefit analyses (CBAs) of (1) hatchery investment, (2) commercial farm investment, (3) subsistence farm investment, and (4) feed investment (importation vs. local production) - +4 working days
  5. Business Case Overview - +5 working days
  6. Hatchery Business Model - +1 working day


The Consultant will report to:

Country Director


The Consultant will work closely with:

Director of Programs, Aquaculture Senior Officer, Program Manager for Resilensia Di’ak and LDS Fish for School Feeding Program.


Required Experience & Skills:

  • 8+ years of experience developing agriculture businesses in emerging markets
  • 5+ years prior experience in livestock/aquaculture production systems
  • Bachelors or advanced degree in Agribusiness Business Administration/Economics, Agriculture, or other related field
  • Prior experience evaluating feed and production systems and developing livestock business models
  • Required ability to speak and write in fluent English, with Tetum fluency an added advantage
  • Familiarity with Timor-Leste a plus