Overview Objectives

This follow-on SOL 2 project, undertaken in conjunction with AusAID, will build on this foundation to continue testing new lines for those most suitable to fit local farming systems. How well they will perform under farmer-managed conditions is important for future adoption. On-farm trials are a key objective of the project to ensure that farmers have input into the development and adaptation of farming systems to support new varieties. This work will dovetail into activities designed to strengthen seed production, storage and distribution. Medium scale seed production will be undertaken to support dissemination, with 10 per cent of farmers in selected districts expected to receive seed by the end of the project. The involvement of farmers, plus researchers from MAFF and Australia, in the evaluation of these crops will also help in identifying and developing improvements in crop management, and will significantly boost East Timor’s research and extension capacity in cropping. Project personnel from East Timor and Australia will also coordinate relevant activities to correspond with and enhance those of other aid and development initiatives.

Project Background and Objectives

The majority of households in East Timor experience food shortage each year. A contributing factor is that varieties of crops are low in yield and productivity, many being poorly suited to the growing environments where they are planted. The relatively small area of cropping (about 336,000ha) for 140,000 households, and the loss of seed and planting material during the upheaval associated with independence in 1999, have exacerbated the problem.

The initial ACIAR Seeds of Life project, which operated from 2000 to 2005, evaluated superior varieties of maize, cassava, sweet potato and irrigated rice, identifying those that were better adapted to local conditions and tolerant of biotic (pests, diseases) and abiotic (drought, fertility) stresses. This project also began establishing a small scientific and extension base for cropping within the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

Seeds of Life managed a flying start by engaging an Australian Team Leader and two Research/Extension Advisors prior to the official commencement date. . This allowed the Australian and MAFF team members to develop an activity plan before the start of the main cropping season in collaboration with other stakeholders. Within a few months, field staff were employed by MAFF to conduct on-farm and on-station trials, the office was established and a set of office procedures in place, a network of SoL collaborators developed, a number of training courses conducted and district personnel had been coached on the installation of replicated and on-farm demonstration trials. Most research activities were concentrated in the districts of Liquica, Baucau, Alieu and Manufahi during the first year of operation. A brief summary of progress by component follows:
Component 1: Seed production and storage and distribution.
Activities in this component include the rehabilitation of Betano and two other research stations; utilization of the Alieu research site; seed production and storage at MAFF stations and districts, training in seed production, storage and testing; formulation of a seed certification, seed import and variety release policy.
A comprehensive farm plan for Betano station was developed and a perimeter fence constructed during 2005-2006. Buildings were designed and their construction tendered out to contractors who visited the site in July, 2006. It is envisaged that construction will commence in September.
The Alieu research site was well managed in 2005-2006 and will continue conducting research and being involved with a small amount of seed production for the foreseeable future.
Seed production remained part of the SoL program during 2005-2006 and sufficient seed was produced with the assistance of farm production to fulfil the requirements of the SoL program. Training on seed production, storage and testing was provided by SoL personnel and by CGIAR centres.
A scheduled consultant input due early in 2006 to develop policy/guidelines on seed certification, seed import and variety release will be delayed until later in the year. In the meantime, SoL drafted guidelines for the establishment of a variety release committee. This will be finalized with the MAFF in 2007 and the first SoL varieties of rice, sweet potato and maize released early in the year.

Component 2: Evaluation of new germplasm and associated technologies.
Activities in this component include the introduction, evaluation and maintenance of new varieties, training of staff, the development of an inventory of local varieties and the integration of agricultural information with the Agricultural Land Geographical Information System (ALGIS) system.
All five CGIAR centres collaborating with SoL provided well-adapted breeding lines and varieties of maize, cassava, sweet potato, rice, peanut and pigeon pea for evaluation in TL during 2005-2006. Twenty three replicated trials were installed in the main season. These were cultivated at Corluli (Maliana), Betano (Manufahi), Quinta Portugal (Ailieu), Fatumaca (Baucau) plus at the University of Timor Lorasae, Hera . An additional two replicated trials of maize (at Betano and one farmers field) and one of peanuts (at Betano) were installed during the second season in 2006. Included in the germplasm were 20 maize (mainly from CYMMYT), 20 peanut (mainly from ICRISAT), 6 pigeon peas (mainly from ICRISAT) and 40 cassava clones (mainly from CIAT). IRRI and CIP also provided germplasm for evaluation. Within each trial were at least two local varieties. In addition, five varieties of locally available velvet beans were compared.
Select maize varieties demonstrated yield advantages in excess of 100% over locals. LYDMR (Late Yellow Downey Mildew resistant) and Suwan5, which proved to be superior yielding selections in previous years, will continue to be included in on-farm trials. Two white varieties (HAR05 and HAR12) which showed superior weevil tolerance during initial trials will also be included.
In the sweet potato trials, the introduced sweet potato clones coded as CIP1, CIP6, CIP7 and CIP8 all possessed yield advantages in excess of 130% over the local varieties in previous years. They are also good eating. In 2005-2006 similar yield advantages were demonstrated. Two clones will be included in on-farm trials.
The top five cassava clones out yielded local varieties by 40-60% over a number of years in SOL1. Two varieties (CA14 and CA15) illustrated similar yield advantages in 2005-2006. However, local farmers cultivate cassava for personal consumption and sweetness is preferred over yield. From the trials, sweet introduced varieties were identified which possess yield advantages of 20-65% over locals. These will be evaluated further in 2006-2007.
Replicated rice trials spread over a number of sites and years during SOL1 did not identify new varieties with significant yield advantages over local varieties. No replicated rice trials were conducted in 2005-2006. However, farmers have identified PSB RC 54 as a preferred rice because of its consistent good yielding and good taste. Seed of this variety will be released in for commercial multiplication in 2007.
New peanut lines performed inconsistently across ecosystems in 2005-2006 with one out yielding a local variety (PT14) by 94% while others underperformed. Further trials need to be conducted to identify specific varieties for particular environments. In the meantime, farmers have expressed a desire to grow PT5 as a preferred peanut because it is large seeded and good yielding. This variety was included in on-farm trials and will be released in 2007.
The results of the pigeon pea and velvet bean trials were not available for comment prior to publication.
Training of MAFF staff and other members of the RDUs was an important part of the overall program in 2005-2006. Included were a large number of short courses provided by Australian staff, CARE, OXFAM, visiting scientists from CGIAR centres and consultants. English language training was also provided.
Component 3: On-farm demonstrations and trials (OFDTs)
Component 3 contains elements of social research, Research and Development Unit (RDU) training, development of OFDT material, implementation of OFDTs and the development of improved crop production packages.
A social scientist from the Australian National University (ANU) and two social science graduates from UNTL commenced collecting information from farmers to formulate a farm practice calendar and to investigate food security issues in agricultural areas. Their studies will continue into 2006-2007 for completion in 2008. Other monitoring of impacts will be done through RDU members.
Formal training of RDU members included FPR techniques, English language training, statistics, cassava production, implementation of OFDT’s, proposal writing, seed production and storage, and maize production. Informal training accompanied the implementation of the OFDTs through the ATL, R/EAs and visiting scientists.
OFDT training material developed and disseminated in 2005-2006 included Fact sheets on sweet potato, maize and peanuts. A draft of a FPR manual was also prepared. This manual will be completed and distributed for use by RDUs in 2006-2007. SoL material continues to be circulated through MAFF Agriboletins.
Improved crop production packages were under development in 2005-2006. In addition to improving yield through the testing of improved varieties, other challenges to overcome include storage problems and weed control. Both of these aspects will be further investigated in detail during 2006-2007 in addition to evaluating disease and soil fertility issues.
654 OFDT’s were installed during the main growing season spanning from October, 2005 to April, 2006. Included were 196 maize, 146 sweet potato, 41 cassava, 187 peanut, 4 velvet bean and 80 rice trials. By district, the number equalled 257 in Alieu, 164 in Baucau, 166 in Manufahi and 108 in Liquica. In addition, 23 Maize and 23 peanut OFDTs were established during the second season. Gender disaggregated views on the new varieties were collected.
The yield advantage for introduced composites identified in replicated, on-station trials were also illustrated under farmers conditions for maize. LYDMR and SW5 out yielded local varieties by approximately 50%.
The OFDT’s for rice, sweet potato, velvet bean and cassava were not harvested at the time this report was compiled. This data will be available at a later date.
Both test peanut varieties of PT5 and GN11 yielded more than the local check in 7 of the 8 sub-districts. The highest yield advantage of 71.4% was reported at Aileu Vila. PT5 consistently yielded more than both the local check and GN11 with a yield advantage of approximately 30% across the sub districts. A sub-district and Agro-Ecological Zone (AEZ) effect was also evident.
Support for the OFDTs was provided by NGOs including the local NGO Rai Maran in Liquica, Austcare in Maliana, CARE International in Liquica, CONCERN in Manufahi and with the Peace Corps and OXFAM. An extra 262 OFDTs were installed by Austcare, Concern and CARE Australia using SoL protocols. Included were 122 velvet bean, 7 cassava, 37 maize, 46 sweet potato and 43 peanut trials. The US Peace Corps also installed nine OFDTs in the district of Los Palos. Results of these trials were pending prior to completion of this report.
Component 4: Program management and coordination and institutionalization of crop research and extension in MAFF.
Component 4 includes elements of office staffing, coordination of activities, the development of a national extension strategy, progress reviews and planning, reporting, TAG visits and the M&E framework.
SoL was fully staffed by the end of the initial year. Four expatriate staff members filling team leader, research/extension advisor (2) and office manager positions were hired as were one local research assistant for each of the eight sub districts. Office support staff and drivers were also engaged. The office was fully operational and possessed efficient operational procedures. An internal audit system has been developed for implementation.
SoL advisors and MAFF personnel plus other members of working groups in the districts worked closely throughout the initial year of implementation both verbally and with written reports. Collaborated during the compilation of monthly reports was also good, MAFF employed all SoL engaged research staff and drivers, included RDU members in training courses and held regular meetings. Collaborators were kept informed with monthly reports, informal and formal meetings and via email.

SoL activities during its second year of operation were planned taking into account the results of the 2005-2006 wet and dry season trials and reviews by researchers, committees, district personnel and consultants. A brief summary of progress by component follows:
Component 1: Seed production and storage and distribution .
Activities in this component include the rehabilitation of Betano and two other research stations; utilization of the Alieu research site; seed production and storage at MAF stations and districts, training in seed production, storage and testing; formulation of a seed certification, seed import and variety release policy.
Construction of an office, two-2 bedroom houses, two-3 bedroom houses and a storage warehouse at Betano were completed in May, 2007 and officially handed over to the Ministry in June, 2007. Other rehabilitation activities completed at Betano during the year include the construction of perimeter and internal fencing, clearing of scrub re-growth plus the installation of access roads between research and seed production plots and the commissioning of an irrigation system in the seed production area. MAF funding provided in the 2007-2008 budget will rehabilitate two further houses.
Land ownership issues prevented the rehabilitation of Loes Research Station. An alternative site in Maliana, Bobonaro district however is available and is being investigated by MAF personnel for improvement into a seed multiplication station.
An additional research station site was identified at Darasula on the Baucau Plateau approximately 30 minutes from Baucau. This 12 ha site was made available by local government officials and will complement existing laboratory facilities at Triloka, approximately 15 minutes drive away. The area was surveyed for topography and soil type and a plan for its development was underway during 2007. Darasula will service the four districts of Region 1 (Manatuto, Baucau, Viqueque and Los Palos).
The Alieu research site was well managed in 2006-2007 and will continue conducting research and being involved with a small amount of seed production for the foreseeable future.
Seed production remained part of the SoL program during 2006-2007 and sufficient seed was produced with the assistance of on-farm production to fulfil the requirements of the SoL program. During the year, SoL supported MAF with the production of 21.5 ha of maize seed, 3.2 ha of peanuts, 12 ha of rice, 0.33 ha of sweet potato and 0.44 ha of cassava. Some seed will be stored on-station and the remainder at regional centres prior to distribution. Training in seed production is part of an on-going process involving local personnel plus the inputs of personnel from CGIAR centres.
ARP funded two consultants to assist MAF develop policy/guidelines on seed certification, seed import and variety release. A draft “Needs Analysis” was prepared early in 2007 and is available for comment. A MAF established variety release committee composed of representatives from the Government and Non Government sectors met in March, 2007 and released two SoL maize varieties, one rice variety, one peanut and three sweet potato varieties. All were given local names excepting Suwan 5 maize.
Component 2: Evaluation of new germplasm and associated technologies.
Activities in this component include the introduction, evaluation and maintenance of new varieties, training of staff, the development of an inventory of local varieties and the integration of agricultural information with the Agricultural Land Geographical Information System (ALGIS) system.
All five CGIAR centres collaborating with SoL (CIAT, IRRI, CIMMYT, ICRISAT, CIP) provided well-adapted breeding lines and varieties of maize, cassava, sweet potato, rice, peanut and pigeon pea for evaluation in TL during 2006-2007 and will continue to do so in 2007-2008. Replicated variety trials for maize, peanuts, sweet potato, and cassava were installed at four sites plus rice at two sites (a total of 18 replicated trials). Germplasm maintenance of these crops remain an additional duty for the four research sites.
Training of MAF staff and other members of the RDUs included “on the job training” with regular visits from both SoL advisors, CGIAR visitors and trainers. In addition, short courses were provided in central locations across a range of disciplines including agronomy, GPS and computer training, soils, statistics, finance packages proposal writing, farmer participatory research training and presentation training. When security issues prevented training courses in Dili, they were held in both Alieu and Baucau. One hundred and thirty eight (138) courses were presented between September, 2006 and August, 2007 equalling over 331 days of training.
A training needs assessment conducted by the IRRI training centre provided suggestions for incorporation into the SoL training plan. English language training was identified as a need to allow MAF personnel take advantage of short and long term training abroad.
Collection of local varieties of the main food crops will commence after a two week training course on germplasm collection in April, 2008. It is expected that at least 100 varieties each of rice and peanuts will be collected at the end of the growing season.
Component 3: On-farm demonstrations and trials (OFDTs)
Component 3 contains elements of social research, RDU training, development of OFDT material, implementation of OFDTs and the development of improved crop production packages.
A social scientist from the Australian National University (ANU) and two social science graduates from UNTL surveyed farmer practices during 2006 and 2007 to provide a baseline of techniques for SoL. A draft report titled “Cultivation practices for staple foods (maize, rice, sweet potato, cassava, peanuts and pigeon pea): A study of Seeds of Life farmers in Aileu, Baucau, Liquica and Manufahi districts” was completed during the year. The information contained in the report will assist SoL prepare suitable OFDT’s for implementation during latter parts of the program. Farm practice calendars were also prepared for distribution to MAF and organizations working with agriculture in Timor Leste. In addition, a report on food security titled “Household stocks and flows of food supplies during the wet and dry seasons, and food shortage period: a longitudinal case study among subsistence farmers in Aileu, Baucau, Liquica and Manufahi Districts, Timor Leste.” This report provides baseline information on food consumption of farmers in the four SoL districts. The results provide further information for SoL researchers to develop strategies for the alleviation food insecurity problems.
Formal training of RDU members included English language training, statistics, cassava production, green manure training, maize storage, implementation of OFDT’s, proposal writing, and weed identification. The majority of courses were English (58%), agronomy (13%), statistics (8%) and soils training (7%). Informal training accompanied the implementation of the OFDTs through the ATL, RE/As and visiting scientists.
OFDT training material developed to be disseminated in 2006-2007 included 8 information brochures on the major food crops. These were for 2 newly released maize varieties, 1 peanut, 3 sweet potato and 1 rice variety. A FPR manual prepared in Tetun was printed in July, 2007. This manual will be distributed for use by RDUs. Agriboletin Number 5 Volume III containing SoL material was issued in January, 2007 and further SoL material will continue to be circulated in the same manner.
1030 OFDT’s were installed on 592 different farms across 11 sub districts during the year. Included were 340 maize, 206 sweet potato, 138 cassava, 202 peanut and 144 rice trials. By district, the percentages were 25% in Alieu, 35% in Baucau, 30% in Manufahi and 10% in Liquica.
Improved crop production packages were developed to overcome challenges with grain storage and weed control. Trials during the wet season investigated ways of reducing weed burdens using velvet bean (Macuna pruriens)and through greater crop densities to shade out weeds. Resistance of different maize varieties to weevil infestation was also investigated as were a range soil fertility issues on different soil types.
Component 4: Program management and coordination and institutionalization of crop research and extension in MAF.
Component 4 includes elements of office staffing, coordination of activities, the development of a national extension strategy, progress reviews and planning, reporting, Technical and Advisory Group visits and the Monitoring and Evaluation framework.
The office was fully operational and possessed efficient operational procedures throughout the year. An internal audit system was developed in collaboration with the University of Western Australia department of internal audit and implemented during the year. Extra RAs were employed at the beginning of the season to be trained in readiness for an expanded program into two extra districts in 2007-2008. The RAs gained experience with the R/EAs, other SoL staff and RDU members.
A volunteer (initially from VIDA) was commissioned for ten months to assist UNTL research utilizing SoL funds. In addition, a final year student from the University of Tasmania investigated soil problems at Betano station over a six week period commencing in January, 2007. A request has been placed with VIDA for a placement in 2008 to continue activities at UNTL and Betano. A final year student from the University of Queensland visited the program twice and is using some of the data from the program to develop his final year project.
SoL advisors and MAF personnel plus other members of RDUs in the districts worked closely throughout the initial year of implementation both verbally and with written reports. Collaboration during the compilation of monthly reports was also good. One RE/A, Mr Alex Dalley completed his two year contract at the end of August, 2007 to pursue other interests. He will be replaced by Ms Rebecca Andersen, previously working as a volunteer with UNTL.
MAF employed all SoL engaged research staff and drivers, included RDU members in training courses and held regular meetings, thereby minimising communication issues. SoL will also collaborate closely with the MAF during development of the National Extension Policy. Monthly, six monthly and annual reports were produced and widely distributed.
A mid term review or SoL activities and plans during June, 2007 resulted in the recommendations for the program to continue for three more years. The review provided a number of options for SoL to expand. These were under consideration by the donors at the end of August, 2007.
An M&E Framework first drafted in February, 2006 was finalized in February, 2007. Recommendations from the report commenced being implemented in March, 2007.
MAF continues to absorb responsibilities for research and seed production under its own budget and has plans to include the salaries of 39 SoL staff members in their budget for 2007-2008.

SoL commenced operation on 1 September, 2005. In May, 2008, an extra $2.55 million in funding was provided to expand activities on seed production and social science research over the remaining two and half years. A Seed Production Advisor (SPA) was employed in March, 2008. Social science research will increase during the second half of 2008.
Progress for eight months of the third year is presented below and takes into account the wet season research for 2007-2008 (Nov-March). A brief summary of progress by component follows:
Component 1: Seed production and storage and distribution .
Rehabilitation of the main buildings at Betano Research Station were completed and handed over to the MAF by the building contractors during the first half of 2007/08. Station surrounds were improved over the ensuing months. This included the painting of storage sheds, installation of culverts, construction of storage shelves in the seed store, construction of gates and the commissioning of an irrigation system. In addition, the station was equipped with 1 tractor, 1 utility vehicle, a seed cleaner, laboratory and office equipment. The station was inaugurated by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, HE Mariono Asanani Sabino on 29 November, 2007.
The MAF was successful in accessing a former research station site a Loes, Liquica District and land in Darasula, Baucau District for rehabilitation and development respectively. The MAF have provided funds for fencing at Darasula and Loes and the formulation of a rehabilitation plan for Loes was underway during the second quarter of 2008.
Research sites at Alieu, Maliana, Betano and Fatumaca were well managed during the period. Replicated trials planted at the sites included maize, cassava, sweet potato and peanuts. A field day was held in Alieu on 7 November, 2007 and at Maliana later in the month associated with the harvesting of the cassava varieties. These were supplemented with small field days held by each RA in his/her sub district for each crop to introduce the new tested varieties to local farmers.
Seed production and storage training was provided to by SoL personnel in an on-going basis by the R/EAs and the newly appointed SPA. CIAT in collaboration with SoL also presented training on cassava production at field days in Alieu and Maliana in November, 2007 and a maize seed storage training course was arranged through the University of the Philippines in March, 2008.
SoL coordinated with ARPIII to assist the MAF formulate a draft Seed Law in January, 2008. The Seed Law draft contains the elements of a policy for the release, quality guidelines, labelling, certification and importation of seed. Some of these elements were already in place with the development of a Variety Release Committee to enable the release of SoL varieties in March, 2007. At the end of May, 2008, the draft Seed Law was being prepared for consideration by the Council of Ministers.
Five of six seed production officers were selected for placement in six districts to improve the quality and quantity of seed production. Plans are afoot to produce at least 5 ha of high quality SoL released rice, maize and peanut seed plus a half ha of sweet potato cuttings during the wet season of 2008-2009 in each district. Prior to harvest, seed cleaners and other seed production equipment will be procured for the program. In the meantime, sufficient seed for research purposes has been multiplied on research stations.
Component 2- evaluation of new germplasm and associated technologies
New varieties of food crops commonly cultivated in TL were introduced for evaluation in replicated trials. Included were 20 maize (mainly from CIMMYT), 11 peanut (mainly from ICRISAT), 11 varieties of sweet potato (mainly from CIP) and 24 cassava clones (mainly from CIAT). Within each trial were at least two local varieties. Two irrigated rice evaluation trials were conducted at Aileu and Betano, Introduced germplasm was cultivated during the season at Corlulu (Maliana), Betano (Manufahi), Quintal Portugal (Ailieu), Fatumaca (Baucau) plus at UNTL, Hera. Eighteen replicated trials were installed and under evaluation during February, 2008. Included were four trials each of maize, cassava, sweet potato and peanuts. Two trials on rice were also established. In addition, the effect of velvet bean control of weeds in maize was studied at three sites. The timing of planting peanuts was also studied at three sites in an effort to improve productivity.
Conservation of new germplasm is a constant challenge. Seed was conserved on research stations throughout the year. This was particularly difficult with cross pollinated maize varieties. The SPA has developed a plan to improve conservation procedures. This will be implemented over the next two years.
Training of members of research and development units (RDUs) involved with the program was a priority during the six month period. Members of the RDUs, MAF staff members from Dili and the districts plus representatives from NGOs and international organizations were included in training programs on agronomy, seed production, statistics and English language. A total of 1159 days of training were provided over the nine month period. Most of this was English language training (781 days) to assist team members with computer work, reading scientific papers and attending training courses abroad. Of the other 378 days, 27% was on agronomy, 20% seed production and 53% on statistics. In addition, the R/EAs and visiting scientists provided constant on the job training in soils, the use of Excel, GPS, soil pH testing equipment etc.
The collection of cassava varieties existing in East Timor prior to the commencement of SoL were being maintained in Corluli, Maliana. During the second quarter of 2008, the SPA also held a short course on germplasm indicators.
Component 3- On-farm demonstrations and trials
Seven hundred and thirty (730) maize, peanut, cassava, sweet potato and rice on farm demonstrations and trials (OFDTs) were established in 15 sub districts during the 2007-2008 wet season (Nov-April). Included were 243 maize, 190 sweet potato, 87 cassava, 190 peanut and 77 rice trials. By district, the number equalled 127 in Alieu, 241 in Baucau, 125 in Manufahi, 196 in Liquica, 8 in Manatutu and 20 in Ainairo. More rice trials are due to be installed in Liquica and Alieu later in the year.
Household data was collected throughout the eight month period by the SOSEK team. Two East Timorese social scientists were assisted by an ANU research advisor plus for a short period by an ANU student. While this was being done, reports of impact at a household level were recorded. Included were farmers reports of harvested surplus cassava, sweet potato and peanuts on sale where previously they were barely self sufficient.
Each RA also developed plans to conduct four mini fields day at an OFDT site, one for each species. The field days commenced as the crops matured. The crop was harvested during the field day, weighed and results discussed. Feedback on the crops characteristics were then solicited from the visiting farmers.
Agro-ecological zone maps of East Timor were refined by the ALGIS laboratory and distributed to the RAs to assist in site selection for OFDT’s. An effort is made to spread the OFDTs across a range of AEZs to evaluate the new varieties under different conditions. GPS manuals were also distributed to the RAs to assist in locating sites on maps.
Calendars of farming activities performed by East Timorese farmers living in different AEZ’s developed by the SOSEK team over the previous 12 months were completed and printed in September, 2007. These calendars were distributed to each of the districts to assist the RA’s and District agricultural officers develop their work plans.
Research to develop “packages of technology” included experiments on improving the spacing of peanuts, Velvet beans (Mucuna pruriens) to control weeds in rice and soil problem identification. Effort was also placed on completing a manual of weeds in Timor Leste and on insect pests in the main food crops.
Component 4 Program management and coordination and institutionalization of crop research and extension in MAF
One of the two Research/Extension Advisors was replaced at the beginning of Year 3. Mr Alex Dalley completed his two year contract and decided not to continue. Ms Rebecca Andersen, who had gained experience with SoL as a volunteer at UNTL, applied for the position and commenced work with SoL on 01 September, 2007.
The SoL Office Manager, Ms Sarah Winnan also completed her contract and was replaced by Mr Mark Vaughan who commenced work on 03 March, 2008. He will be assisted by a new finance officer who commenced work in October, 2007.
Two OFDT coordinators were hired at the beginning of Year 3 to help train the RAs and coordinate the installation and monitoring of OFDT’s. Seven new research assistants were also employed to manage the research program in two new districts and fill RA positions vacated to accept OFDT coordinator positions.
As a result of the Mid Term Review, the position of Seed Production Advisor was also filled by Dr Asep Setiawan. Dr Setiawan had previously worked with SoL as the CIP representative and resident sweet potato expert. In addition, a farm manager was employed to manage Betano Research Station. This assignment will relieve one of the RE/As of much of this work.
SoL activities continued to be administered from the office at Fomento, Dili, although most team members were based in the districts. Weekly meetings were held on Monday mornings to coordinate activities. Minutes were taken and circulated amongst the staff.
A personnel evaluation system was established to help guide staff improvement. Competency based assessments commenced in January, 2008. These will be included in the Annual Personnel Evaluation due later in the year.
MAF allocated funds to pay the salaries (US$150 per month) of 32 SoL staff from 01 January, 2008. This move indicates the commitment of MAF to the SoL program. SoL will continue to pay the 30% salary subsidy.
SoL personnel kept in close contact with Regional Directors and District personnel, AusAID, ACIAR, and CGIAR centres. Also with other agricultural based programs through the RDUs and regular meetings (for example the monthly MAF/Donor “Harmonization meetings” and the monthly Sustainable livelihoods meetings) and with the involvement of NGOs in conducting OFDTs. Activities were effectively coordinated between the major stakeholders. Maize, peanuts and rice seed was provided to GTZ, World Vision, OCAP, AusCARE, CARE, Oxfam, ETA, and Friends of Luro for extension purposes.
An agreement was reached between MAF, SoL, ARPIII and GTZ for SoL to field a consultant to assist MAF elucidate and document current directions of an extension philosophy within MAF and outline a policy for agricultural extension for discussion. This input was completed during May, 2008 and GTZ has accepted responsibility to assist MAF finalize the policy.
An Annual Plan for 2007-2008 developed in March, 2007 for the Review Team was in effect at the end of May, 2008. This plan will be modified to field extra programs in addition to those included in the PDD when extra funding becomes available. The APC visited the program three times during the eight month period to monitor progress against the plan and remains in regular contact with Program Manager at ACIAR. A TAG visit is scheduled for August, 2008.

The Seeds of Life program within the East Timorese Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries expanded its activities into seven of the country’s thirteen districts during the fourth year of implementation. The program’s progress is summarized by component below.
Component 1: Seed production and storage and distribution .
Rehabilitation of research stations advanced considerably over the past year. The main research related buildings at Betano Research Station are now complete and operating. In 2008/2009 the MAF added to these with the construction of a large warehouse, a meeting building, one house and tractor repair shed. No major construction is planned for Betano in 2009/2010.
One house at Loes Research Station was rehabilitated in January, 2009. A tender with a building contractor for rehabilitation of the remaining buildings was signed in May and construction will commence in June. The MAF has allocated US$60,000 for a chainlink perimeter fence around the station. An Australian volunteer has been designated to work at Loes station for 16 months from May, 2009. He will assist supervise the rehabilitation of the station.
The research station site at Darasula, Baucau has been fenced by MAF, a station manager assigned to oversee its development and an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) drafted. MAF will slash the grass on the site to determine the amount of arable land is available for research. MAF wish to complete activities on Loes before commencing construction at Darasula.
All research sites for replicated trials (Aileu, Maliana, Betano, Fatumaca) were well managed during the period. Replicated trials planted at the sites included maize, cassava, sweet potato and peanuts. Part of the Loes station was temporarily fenced off and maize, peanuts and sweet potato trials installed. Field days were held at Aileu and Betano during which farmer observations of different varieties were recorded. These were supplemented with small field days held by each RA in his/her sub district for each crop to introduce the new tested varieties to local farmers. MAF staff will continue these activities during 2009-2010.
Seed production and storage training was provided to by SoL personnel in an on-going basis by the R/EAs and the Seed Production Advisor (SPA). Four hundred and fifty nine (459) days of training were presented to seed production staff, MAF personnel, NGOs and farmers over the period from 01 September, 2008 to 31 May, 2009.
The Seed Law drafted with the assistance of SoL personnel was with the Council of Ministers at the end of May for consideration. The SPA will continue to work with the MAF during 2009/2010 to develop regulations to complement the Law.
Seven seed production officers across six districts working with seed officer and advisor to produce 9t Nakroma seed, 15t Sele, 1t Suwan 5, 40,000 sweet potato cuttings and 5t Utamua in 2008. In 2009 the area was increased and 73t of Sele, 1t Suwan 5, 50,000 sweet potato cuttings and 16t Utamua. FAO agreed to purchase seed produced in country on behalf of MAF. Seed dryers and seed cleaning equipment has been purchased to improve the quality for 2009/2010.
Component 2- evaluation of new germplasm and associated technologies
New varieties of food crops commonly cultivated in TL were introduced for evaluation in replicated trials. Included were 20 maize (mainly from CIMMYT), 15 peanut (mainly from ICRISAT), 16 varieties of sweet potato (mainly from CIP) and 25 cassava clones (mainly from CIAT). Within each trial were at least two local varieties. One irrigated rice (20 entries) evaluation trial was conducted at Aileu. Introduced germplasm was cultivated during the season at Corluli (Bobonaro), Betano (Manufahi), Quintal Portugal (Aileu), Fatumaca (Baucau) and Loes (Baucau). Twenty eight replicated varietal evaluation trials were installed and under evaluation or had been harvested in May 2009. Included were four trials each on maize, cassava and peanuts; eight on sweet potatoes; one mungbean; one trial on rice; five on climbing bean and one on European potato. Three barley and two wheat varietal trials will also be installed in June.
In addition to the varietal evaluations, a number of farming systems trials were installed. These included time of planting/weeding of maize trials, weevil tolerance in maize varieties, the effect of phosphorus on peanuts and a planting distance on peanut yield trial. In 2009/2010, replicated trials on maize, peanuts, cassava and sweet potato will be conducted on four research stations. In addition, there will be varietal trials on mung beans, European potato, wheat, barley and red beans plus a range of farming systems trials.
A Seed Collection Curator was assigned during 2008 to collect and conserve germplasm. In the current collection are 80 cassava entries, 40 sweet potato varieties and 30 peanut varieties. Seed of the released varieties was conserved on the research stations both in the field and stored in warehouses.
Training of members of research and development units (RDUs) involved with the program remains a priority for SoL. Last year, members of the RDUs, MAF staff members from Dili and the districts plus representatives from NGOs and international organizations were included in training programs on agronomy, seed production, statistics and English language. A total of 2078 days of training were provided over the nine month period from September, 08 to May, 09. Most of this was English language training (1143 days) to assist team members with computer work, reading scientific papers and attending training courses abroad. Of the other days, 160 were on agronomy, 459 days on seed production, 301 days on statistics and 15 days on other topics. In addition, the R/EAs and visiting scientists provided constant on the job training in soils, the use of Excel, GPS, soil pH testing equipment etc. This level of local training will continue into 2010. In addition, an increased number of team members will pursue short term training courses abroad. It is envisaged that at least one team member will commence a masters course in Australia, hopefully on a John Allwright scholarship and two will be given the opportunity to travel to Indonesia for masters degrees studies.
Component 3- On-farm demonstrations and trials
Seven hundred and fourteen (714) maize, peanut, cassava, sweet potato and rice on farm demonstrations and trials (OFDTs) were established in 16 sub districts during the 2008-2009 wet season (Nov-April). Included were 259 maize, 204 sweet potato, 13 cassava, 147 peanut and 91 rice trials. By district, the number equalled 127 in Aileu, 238 in Baucau, 125 in Manufahi, 196 in Liquica, 8 in Manatutu and 20 in Ainairo. More rice trials are due to be installed in Liquica and Aileu later in the year.
Household data was collected throughout the nine month period by the SOSEK team. Two East Timorese social scientists worked for much of the year collecting data and preparing reports on the economic benefits of farmers involved in SoL in Aileu, Baucau, Liquica and Manufahi, some of which are included in the Annual Research Report for 2008. During the year, cropping calendars for SoL sub-districts in Aileu, Baucau, Liquica and Manufahi were complete and cropping calendars for new locations in Venilale, Maubisse, Natarbora and Turiscai commenced. A social science advisor from ANU commenced work with Seeds of Life on 08 April, 2009 to support this work.
Each RA held four mini field days in each sub district during the cropping season. One field day was held for each species. The crops were harvested during the field day, weighed and results discussed with the farmers and other members of the RDU. Feedback on the crops characteristics were then solicited from the visiting farmers.
OFDTs were installed in all major AEZs to evaluate the new varieties under different conditions. The coordinates of all were logged and mapped.
Research to develop “packages of technology” included experiments on the use of Velvet beans (Mucuna pruriens) to control weeds in maize, weeding trials in maize, the position of cuttings of sweet potatoes, phosphorus application on peanuts and weevil tolerance in maize.
Component 4 Program management and coordination and institutionalization of crop research and extension in MAF
SoL activities were administered from the office at the MAF compound in Comoro, Dili for the entire year. The office was expanded to cater for a larger number of team members and increased seed production activities.
The level of institutionalization of SoL into the MAF increased dramatically during the year. At end of year 3, MAF was funding 28 of 39 professional staff. The Ministry also designated managers for Betano, Darasula and Loes research stations. MAF buildings at Comoro and in the districts were utilized by SoL and MAF provincial personnel were running the research program in the districts. All SOL correspondence is channelled through MAF.
SoL personnel attend MAF “harmonization” meetings between donors and holds regular meetings with NGOs.
The TAG visited the program in August, 2008 and a report completed possessing recommendations for the future of SoL.
Personnel changes during the year include the assignment of a long term social scientist, three Australian volunteers and seven seed production officers started work in the districts.

The Seeds of Life program within the East Timorese Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries conducted its activities in seven of the country’s thirteen districts during the final year of implementation. Towards the end of the fourth year a Technical Advisory Group prepared a Concept Note proposing a Phase III of the program. A design mission followed in April, 2010 and prepared a draft document which was under review at the end of May, 2010. It is envisaged that implementation will be to schedule and commence on 01 September, 2010.
Progress in the Second Phase of Seeds of Life is summarized by component below.
Component 1: Seed production and storage and distribution .
The rehabilitation of three research stations was proposed as part of Component 1. Mid way through the final year of implementation, all rehabilitation work on the buildings at Betano Research Station were complete and facilities operating. Five houses and two office buildings were also complete at Loes Research Station. Suitable farm equipment for both stations was purchased and that for Betano, was in operation in May, 2010. At Loes, the MAF funded chainlink fence around the perimeter of the station was complete. At the end of May, 2010, approximately $100,000 remained in the infrastructure budget. Some of this will be spent on a prefabricated shed and the remainder on the station’s front fence.
The research station site at Darasula, Baucau has been fenced by MAF, a station manager assigned to oversee its development and an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) drafted. MAF has undertaken to slash the grass on the site to determine the amount of arable land available for research.
Replicated trials were conducted at four research station style sites during the year (Aileu, Loes, Betano, Fatumaca). These were well managed during the year. Replicated trials on these sites included maize, cassava, sweet potato and peanuts. Replicated trials on rice, wheat, barley, Irish potatoes and beans were also conducted on farmers fields as representative ecosystems for these crops were not available on research stations. Field days were held at Aileu and Betano during which farmer observations of different varieties were recorded. These were supplemented with small field days held by each RA in his/her sub district for each crop to introduce the new tested varieties to local farmers.
Training on seed production and storage was provided to by SoL personnel as an on-going basis by the R/EAs and the Seed Production Advisor (SPA). Twelve formal courses were held (one in Nov, 2009 one in Dec, 2009, one in Jan, 2010, two in Feb, three in March and four in April, 2010) over the period from 01 September, 2009 and May, 2010. A sweet potato production field day was also held in Nov, 2009. A total of 236 training opportunities were delivered over this period.
The Seed Law drafted with the assistance of SoL personnel was with the MAF at the end of May. The SPA will continue to work with the MAF during 2010 to develop regulations to complement the Law. This Law will not be submitted to Parliament for ratification until the MAF has sufficient personnel in place to administer the regulations.
Seven seed production officers operating in six districts worked with an advisor to produce 60t Nakroma seed, 20t of maize, 100,000 sweet potato cuttings and 18t Utamua during the reporting period. Seed dryers, seed cleaning equipment and storage facilities were installed at two sites and smaller depots were constructed at two other sites.
Component 2- evaluation of new germplasm and associated technologies
The Seeds of Life program continued to evaluate new varieties of food crops for cultivation in TL. Included were 20 maize (mainly from CIMMYT), 15 peanut (mainly from ICRISAT), 16 varieties of sweet potato (mainly from CIP), 20 irrigated rice (from IRRI) and 25 cassava clones (mainly from CIAT). In addition, preliminary research was conducted on climbing beans, barley, wheat and Irish potato. Within each trial were at least two local varieties. A collection of local legumes was also planted for evaluation. Introduced germplasm was cultivated during the season at Betano (Manufahi), Quintal Portugal (Aileu), Fatumaca (Baucau) and Loes (Baucau) plus on farmers fields. Forty two varietal evaluation trials were installed and under evaluation in May 2010.
Agronomic trials to evaluate weeding, spacing, pesticide and tillage systems were also installed. Approximately 10 of these trials were installed by the research section of SoL and a further 10 as part of the seed multiplication program.
Germplasm conservation during the year included 80 cassava entries, 40 sweet potato varieties and 30 peanut varieties. A collection of native legume species also added to the diversity of material under evaluation for East Timorese farming systems.
The SoL training program progressed at a rate of 9 persons being trained each working day of the year. The total number of training days was 1503 between 01 September, 2009 and 30 April, 2010. Courses were directed at members of the research and development units (RDUs) involved with the program. In addition, farmer field days were held in each of the sub districts and on the job training was on-going.
In addition to the seed production training, formal classes were provided each month for English and five courses were presented on mathematics or statistics. There were also workshops on SWOT analyses, development of research priorities and training by AQIS on pests and disease prevention. In addition, the R/EAs and visiting scientists provided constant on the job training in soils, the use of Excel, GPS, soil pH testing equipment etc. This level of local training will continue for the remainder of 2010.
Seven East Timorese were taken on a study tour of research facilities at Hermitage Research Centre in Queensland, Australia. Participants were able to observe the precision and methodologies utilized by Australian researchers and discuss methods for improving their own practices.
During the past year two SoL/MAF staff members attended MSc training in Bogor, Indonesia, two other students studied English at UWA in preparation for studying MScs (with John Allwright scholarships), one student completed his Masters in GIS in Australia with SoL funding and the ATL co-supervised a PhD student studying at UWA.
Component 3- On-farm demonstrations and trials
More than eight hundred (837) maize, peanut, cassava, sweet potato and rice on farm demonstrations and trials (OFDTs) were established in 17 sub districts during the 2008-2009 wet season (Nov-April). Included were 286 maize, 151 sweet potato, 120 cassava, 194 peanut and 86 rice trials. At the end of May, 2010 six hundred and thirty three (633) trials had been harvested and were under evaluation. A similar number of trials were installed during 2009-2010 but may not be harvested and reported until later in the year.
The SOSEK team conducted a series of studies on the impact of SoL technologies on farm households, examined the farmer adoption patterns for different crops and continued a consumption study in SoL adopter households. Much of this research is reported in the Annual Research Report for 2009. A series of cropping calendars for each district was also completed and published.
Each RA held four mini field days in each sub district during the cropping season. One field day was held for each species. The crops were harvested during the field day, weighed and results discussed with the farmers and other members of the RDU. Feedback on the crops characteristics were then solicited from the visiting farmers.
OFDTs were installed in all major AEZs to evaluate the new varieties under different conditions. The coordinates of all were logged and mapped. Some of these will be included in a map of sites for the Annual Research Report.
Apart from varietal development, research was also conducted to improve the “packages of technology” available to farmers which would complement the high yielding varieties. Weed control is a major constraint in the upland areas and experiments on this were installed on maize, peanuts and rice. Included was the use of Velvet bean (Mucuna pruriens) to control weeds in maize. Nitrogen application trials were also implemented on farmers rice fields.
Component 4 Program management and coordination and institutionalization of crop research and extension in MAF
SoL activities were administered from the office at the MAF compound in Comoro, Dili for the entire year. This office is in the same building as the Directorate of Research and Special Services. SoL personnel, especially the Australian Team Leader interacted regularly with the Director for Research and Director for Agriculture and Horticulture.
Institutionalization of SoL into the MAF continued during the year with MAF directors requesting an increase in the level of funding to be directly managed by the MAF. The managers of research stations at Betano, Darasula and Loes were also more active. Provincial personnel were running the research program in the districts. All SOL correspondence is channelled through MAF.
SoL personnel attend MAF “harmonization” meetings between donors and holds regular meetings with NGOs.
The final TAG visit for SoL II was held in August, 2009. This occasion doubled as an opportunity to prepare a Concept Note for a possible third Phase (SoL III). A TAG report was prepared and SoL personnel acted on the recommendations. Additionally, the Concept Note recommended a third phase of the program and suggested that emphasis now be placed on seed production and extension of the new material. A SoL Program Steering Committee meeting followed in September, 2009 endorsing the concept note and the desire of all involved parties for a new Phase. AusAID and ACIAR supported the concept note in separate meetings. In November, 2009 a preliminary design for SoL III was completed and a final design team visited East Timor in April to the final design. This design was under consideration by the Australian and East Timorese Governments at the end of May, 2010.
Personnel changes during the year include the assignment of a long term social scientist, the assignment of a climate change advisor and the departure of two Australian volunteers.

Project ID
CIM/2003/014
Project Country
Inactive project countries
Commissioned Organisation
University of Western Australia, Australia
Project Leader
Dr Harry Nesbitt
Email
h.nesbit@bigpond.net.au
Phone
(08) 9388-8588 / 0409663242
Fax
Collaborating Institutions
Australian National University, Australia
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, East Timor
Seeds of Life 2 Program, East Timor
Project Budget
$11,594,220.00
Start Date
01/09/2005
Finish Date
31/08/2010
Extension Start Date
01/02/2011
Extension Finish Date
31/03/2011
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr Paul Fox