More than meat: the role of pigs in Timorese culture and the household economy

Cynthia L. Hunter, Joanne Millar, Jenny Ann LML Toribio

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    5 Citations (Scopus)


    In the Asia Pacific region, pigs play an important cultural and economic role in society. However, the cultural significance and use of livestock is often overlooked in agricultural research and development. This paper describes the contribution of pigs to the social and cultural life of rural households in Timor Leste from the perspectives of women, men and children. Three lowland patrilineal and two highland matrilineal communities in Bobonaro district were selected for qualitative research. Eight focus groups were held in five sub-villages in two locations with 20 women, 20 men and 21 children involved in pig raising and 16 people not raising pigs at the time. Ten key informants were individually interviewed. Our research found geographic, gender and age differences in ceremonial roles and pig husbandry including types and numbers of pigs used, ritual activities and pig housing or feeding. Pig raising is mostly done by women and children, with men organizing cultural events and making decisions on using pigs for rituals. Challenges and opportunities to improve pig husbandry in contexts, such as Timor Leste with limited resources, absence of formal meat markets, exotic disease outbreaks and strong cultural obligations, are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)184-198
    Number of pages15
    JournalInternational Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
    Issue number2
    Early online date14 May 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

    Grant Number

    • ACIAR


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