Overview Objectives

Towards a sustainable national seed system for Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste is predominantly an agrarian economy. Agriculture provides employment for 80% of people and accounts for 30% of gross domestic production. Just under half the households rely on subsistence agriculture and are below the basic-needs poverty line. With no food security, family members experience a ‘hungry season’ of up to 4 months per year.
One of the biggest challenges faced by the nation is to increase production of the main staple crops. While a range of factors contribute to the low productivity (eg low yielding varieties, poor agronomy, and high post-harvest losses), having available improved varieties with higher yield potentials is where the most immediate and significant gains can be obtained.
Seeds of Life phase 3 maintains the focus of phase 2 (CIM/2003/014) on increasing the yields of staple food crops by selecting and distributing improved varieties of superior genetic quality. The aim is to establish the foundations of a national seed system, providing a high level of access to seed of improved varieties to farmers throughout the country.
The outcomes sought include:
1. Identification and release of improved varieties of food crops.
2. Formal production and distribution of seed (involving the establishment of seed processing centres and the production and distribution of maize, rice, peanut sweetpotato and cassava seed and cuttings)
3. Informal production and distribution of seed (involving increasing farmers’ access to improved varieties outside of government channels)
4. Improving the capacity of the Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to implement a seed management system.

Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

Year 1 or Phase 3 (Seeds of Life 3)
Seeds of Life (SoL)” (Fini ba Moris) is a program within the Timor-Leste (East Timor) Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) to improve national food security through increased productivity of major foodcrops. The Governments of Timor-Leste and Australia collaboratively fund the program. Australian funding is through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) plus the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and is managed by ACIAR. The Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA) within The University of Western Australia (UWA) coordinates the Australian funded activities. The current phase (Phase 3 or SoL3) commenced at the beginning of February, 2011. This Annual Report summarizes the program’s progress during the first 12 months of implementation.
SoL performed activities in 19 sub districts spread across 8 of the nation’s 13 districts during the first year of SoL3 (2011-2012). The districts were Manufahi, Aileu, Liquica, Baucau, Ainaro, Bobonaro, Viqueque and Dili). Although a program approach is taken to all activities, reporting is generally by component, the components being a) Evaluation of improved crop varieties (Component 1), b) Formal seed production and distribution (Component 2), c) Informal seed production and distribution (Component 3). Component 4, (d) Seed system management is responsible for enhancing the capacity of the MAF to manage the national seed system. A brief summary of activities by component follows:

Component 1: Evaluation of improved food crop varieties.
National agricultural research centres and research stations established. During the year, buildings were rehabilitated or constructed on TriLoka (Baucau) and Corluli (Bobonaro), Darasula (Baucau). Temporary buildings were designed for erection at Kintal Portugal (Aileu) and Raimaten, (Bobonaro). The MAF allocated an area for cultivation on the Urulefa high altitude research station site in Maubisse and this was utilized during the 2011-2012 wet season for the first time. A suitable site was also identified to conduct research on irrigated lowland rice and irrigated upland crops and for seed multiplication. This site 1.7ha in area is located near a main road and the main irrigation canal and is close to the water source. The site is in the suco of Raimaten, Maliana sub District of Bobonaro.
The irrigation system at Loes (Liquica) was being rehabilitated and improved during the period and extra buildings to house equipment designed. Road construction on the site was under quotation at the end of January, 2012. Betano (Manufahi), Loes and Darasula stations were manned by MAF professional staff and operating to a budget.
Genetic material of potential improved varieties identified and sourced. During the first year of SoL 3, new improved test entries imported were 25 new wheat and 25 new barley varieties and 13 wingbean entries from Australia plus 104 upland rice and 60 lowland rice varieties from IRRI, Philippines.
Potential new varieties evaluated on-station. 38 wet season trials were designed and being implemented on 12 species during the wet season of 2011-2012. The number of entries in each trial varied from 13 to 106 depending on the crop. 10 elite peanut varieties were selected for consideration and included in 2012-2013 replicated trials. 3 new sweet potatoes were identified for inclusion 2012-2013 on-farm demonstrations and trials (OFDTs)
Potential new varieties evaluated on-farm. 318 OFDTs were installed by the end of January, 2012. Of these, 182 were maize, 14 legumes (wing beans), 62 sweet potato and 62 cassava. The OFDTs were installed across 7 districts and 19 sub districts. The total number of OFDTs will increase above this number as the final upland demonstration/trials are installed and lowland rice trials are planted after February.
Selected new varieties officially released. One new white maize variety was identified for release in by the SoL team in June, 2011. This variety identified as P07 originated from the Philippines. The breeders have provided permission to release the variety in Timor Leste and the variety release committee is awaiting the naming of the variety before officially releasing it to farmers.
Sufficient foundation seed being produced. On hand at the end of January, 2012 were 1500kg of Sele foundation seed and 3,500 kg of P07 stored at Betano station; 1 ha of cassava plants for cuttings at Loes and 1 ha at Corluli. Approximately 3000 m2 of sweet potato seedling material were also grown at Loes and 800m2 at Aileu. 200 panicles of Nakroma rice were selected for purity and bulking up as foundation seed in 2011.

Component 2. Formal seed production and distribution
Formal seed being produced through farmer contracts. Seed production officers (SPOs) contracted farmers to produce seed (and planting material) of maize, rice and sweet potato. Two extra sweet potato multiplication fields (one in Liquica and one in Bobonaro) were established during 2011. All cassava multiplication for the program was at Betano or Loes research stations during 2011-2012.
Quality assurance systems established. Seed Production Officers and Seed Production Coordinators underwent training during the second half of the year to improve their understanding of seed quality regulation. High quality seed was maintained by rejecting up to 20% of that harvested and one technician was dedicated to laboratory analysis of seed quality. A new rice cleaner was purchased to improve seed quality and seed germinators were delivered to Baucau, Aileu, Manufahi, Liquica, and Bobonaro seed warehouses for internal quality control purposes. The MAF/SoL seeds analyst has been asked by MAF to inspect imported maize seed germination rates prior to it’s distribution. Sampling and testing procedures has been implemented properly by staff and test results have been delivered to MAF.
Technical extension support provided to contracted seed producers. One training course presented during first half of year and two courses in the second half. In addition, seed producers received regular visits from MAF/SoL seed production officers.
Seed grading, packing and storage facilities established. New storage facilities were established at Darasula (Baucau), Maliana, Aileu and Loes and the facilities in TriLoka (Baucau) upgraded during the year. Construction of an additional warehouse in Viqueque was also commenced. Betano warehouse maintained. Each warehouse is capable of storing 30t of seed and cleaning/grading rice and maize at 1t/hr. 15 persons assigned by MAF to seed production program. 6 new personnel including one new coordinator and one pure seed officer. 3 are women.
Formal seed distributed through preferred distribution channels. 100% of maize seed required for the SoL/MAF-Informal Seed Production (IFSP) and NGO-IFSP was produced and supplied. Some maize and rice seed for direct distribution by MAF and NGOs was also multiplied and delivered during the year. Extra sweet potato and cassava cutting sites were installed during the second half of the year to cater for the programs expanded needs. Meanwhile, 10000 sweetpotato cuttings were delivered for MAF-IFSP (Ainaro and Liquica). Cassava cuttings were distributed to Baucau for Formal Seed Production (9000 cuttings); SoL/MAF-Informal Seed production (IFSP) Ainaro (300 cuttings); SoL/MAF-IFSP Liquica (200 cuttings); MAF IFSP Baucau (100 cuttings).

Component 3. Informal seed production and distribution
The informal seed production component is budgeted to commence during Program Year 2. However, planning of activities in this component for the wet season of 2011/2012 commenced with the assignment of an Informal Seed Production advisor at the beginning of April, 2011. The informal seed group negotiated with NGOs working in agriculture to become involved in seed production systems. SoL/MAF also formed their own groups in seven districts.
Community Seed Production Groups established. 280 groups were established by SoL/MAF in seven districts over the second half of the year. NGOs established 446 groups using SoL seeds. 13 women only group (5% of total 280 groups) established. Of the 280 groups 102 were maize, 51 maize, 52 rice, 6 cassava and 40 sweet potatoes. Total members were 3,815. (men 73%, women 27%). By mid January, 2012, approx. 89% of the groups had planted their seed production crops.
Farmer Seed Marketing Groups established is a second year activity.
Focal seed merchants in local markets established is a second year activity.
Access to seed for vulnerable groups improved through seed fairs is a second year activity.
Systems linking informal seed producers with potential buyers enhanced is a second year activity.
Component 4. Seed system management
Seed planning and management systems established. Forward planning systems yet to be established. Inventory system for SoL seed established and will be expanded to encompass the National seed program. A study tour of Indonesian seed systems was conducted in January, 2012 to provide direction to MAF staff for the initial design.
M&E systems established. Two additional MAF staff were assigned to the M&E/SOSEK Unit in August, 2011, bringing total to four plus one advisor. In the second half of the year, a baseline survey was conducted by the M&E/SOSEK Unit in collaboration with DNE, the National Directorat of Statistics. The M&E framework was reviewed early in the year (April, 2011) and again discussed by the TAG (Nov, 2011). The M&E manual was drafted.
Seed system gender strategy implemented. The short term gender advisor spent two months developing a work plan for Gender in SoL. An action plan for each component has been developed and personnel trained on Gender in Agriculture perspectives. The MAF assigned two persons to work on gender activities in MAF/SoL.
Improved-variety technical and promotional materials developed. Scientific publications of SoL research were prepared and released during the first year of SoL 3. These included 5 papers accepted by international journals indicating the high quality of research conducted by the program. Variety and technical recommendations in Tetun were also printed and distributed.
Awareness of improved varieties increased. SoL activities received considerable publicity during the period both on local and international TV in addition to publicity in local press. The Australian Minister of Foreign affairs supported SoL activities on both radio and TV. The MAF Secretary of State HE Marcos da Cruz also visited SoL activities in January, 2012 and publically expressed support for the program on local TV. A list of the publications, reports and some publicity events are presented in Section 3.4.
Environmental and climate change impacts addressed. A climate change report addressing the extent of expected change in rainfall and temperature on agricultural activities was completed during the first six months of the year and field work on terraces conducted during the second half of the year. Two MAF staff were assigned to work on climate change.
Program management
A major activity of SoL3 during its first year was in setting up the program to operate effectively within the MAF and with other organizations, particularly nationally, on a regional and district basis. A program management team (PMT) was established with four directors, seven district directors, the SoL ATL and chaired by the MAF DG. Three PMT meetings were held during the year plus one extra one during the visit of the TAG.
Three Regional Offices were established and operating during the year as planned and District coordinators joined regular meetings. Three Regional advisors (all male) were appointed and management systems established. Physical and financial management systems were established with the assistance of extra logistical and financial staff members. Charles Sturt University (CSU) developed a communications strategy and re-established the SoL web page. Administrative guidelines were developed and the M&E Framework was reviewed and being implemented. The first TAG completed its report on November, 2011 and its recommendations are being acted upon.

Activities in the second year of the project continued to be managed and reported by component. These components are 1) Evaluation of improved food crop varieties, 2) Formal seed production and distribution, 3) Informal seed production and distribution and 4) Seed system management. Capacity building is an integral part of the program and is imbedded in each component but a summary of the year’s training activities is presented separately.
Component 1 has the objective of identifying and releasing improve varieties of food crops. To facilitate the research, Seeds of Life (SoL) helped the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) rehabilitate national agricultural research centres and stations. In 2012, minor construction was provided to the stations at Loes, Betano, Darasula and Maliana. One Quality Protein Maize white maize variety was imported from Indonesia to expand the number of varieties already being evaluated by the program.
Improved lines of fourteen crops imported during earlier years were compared with locally grown varieties. Potential new varieties were evaluated on-station in 43 wet season trials conducted over the 2011-2012 wet season and 17 trials in the 2012 dry season. The number of entries in each trial varied from 13 to 106 depending on the crop. Two promising maize varieties were identified in the wet season replicated trials but when evaluated further during the dry season were found to be susceptible to downy mildew and discarded. The direction for selecting white maize varieties has been modified as a result. 3 new sweet potatoes were identified for inclusion in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 on-farm trials.
Potential new varieties found to show some promise in replicated on-station trials were evaluated on farmers’ fields under farmer conditions. Approximately 430 on-farm demonstration trials (OFDTs) were installed over the 2011-2012 wet season and data collection extended through to July, 2012. The OFDTs were installed across 7 districts and 19 sub districts. Farmers were particularly happy with the released varieties. When asked to compare released varieties with locals in the baseline survey, 87.5% of the MAF/SoL variety growers considered that these varieties yielded better or much better than the local varieties and only 1.4% of the MAF/SoL variety growers thought they yielded worse or much worse than the local variety.
As a result of four years of on-farm trials, a new white maize variety (tested as P07) was released by the Minister of MAF on 27 July 2012 with the name Noi Mutin (white darling in English). Data of other crops are also being closely examined for prospective releases. Sufficient foundation seed of this release and other SoL/MAF varieties was multiplied and available for the various seed production programs and for research purposes in 2012 and into 2013. Small areas of sweet potato multiplication areas were also established close to the farmers requiring cuttings. Watering of these sites was supported by micro-trickle irrigation systems. One ha of cassava plants for cuttings were established at both Loes and Corluli for further multiplication by farmer groups.
Capacity building within the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries included formal and informal training. MAF personnel received training on statistics, data analysis, report writing and presentation of research results. Many also had the opportunity of attending or presenting research papers at international conferences.
Component 2 has the objective of ensuring sufficient high quality seed is produced through formal channels to maintain the genetic quality of released varieties.
Seed production officers (SPOs) contracted formal seed growers in Aileu, Baucau, Liquica, Viqueque, Bobonaro and Manufahi to produce seed (and planting material) of maize, rice, peanut and sweet potato during the year. All cassava multiplication for the program was at Betano or Loes research stations.
The National Seed System was launched by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on 03 May, 2013 with the opening of Timor-Leste’s first seed quality laboratory at the MAF compound. At the same time the Minister declared the existence of 17 National Seed Officers authorised to certify the quality of seed produced in the country and send samples to the central laboratory.
Technical extension support was provided to contracted seed producers throughout the year. Most of the field inspections done by seed district officers was conducted in the presence of the Suco Extension Officer (SEO) and farmer. In addition, contract seed producers received regular field inspections from seed production officers.
Formal seed was distributed through preferred distribution channels. Included in the distribution was 39.2 t of Nakroma seed, 23.8 t of Sele maize, 3.5 t of Noi Mutin and 2.6 t Utamua peanut seed which was distributed to MAF, SoL components and NGOs over the year. Some cost recovery was possible by selling seed to international organizations. These funds were re-invested into the seed production program.
The Capacity of MAF staff to manage the production and distribution of formal seed was enhanced through a series of short training courses and a visit to another seed technology program in Indonesia.
Component 3 is designed to improve mechanisms for the production and distribution of seed through informal and market channels. This was enhanced through the establishment of 401 additional Community Seed Production Groups (CSPGs) during 2012, bringing the total of the CSPGs to 681. Each group underwent training.
Farmer Seed Marketing Groups (FSMGs) are being established to enhance the sale of farmer grown seed. Three FSMGs (two in Baucau and one in Liquica) were formed during the year and these groups produced seed for sale to other farmers and organizations.. The plan is to develop 2-3 FSMGs in year 3 and 4-6 FSMGs in year 4.
Focal seed merchants in local markets are being supported to assist merchandise farmer produced seed. Two seed merchants, one in Baucau and another in Maliana were identified with support from MAF District offices. A seed marketing training course is planned for July 2013 to assist the farmers with their marketing plan.
A simple, inexpensive farmer to farmer seed exchange approach is being piloted in the districts to support vulnerable households. The target crop is sweet potato and the system is being well received by both the farmers and district Government personnel.
Systems are being developed linking informal seed producers with potential buyers. SoL further facilitated a linkage support system between FSMGs/CSPGs and potential seed buyers. In 2012, 46t of Sele variety of maize, 27t of Nakroma variety of paddy, and 4t of Utamua variety of peanuts were produced by community seed production groups. Of the total production of maize and paddy seed, community seed production groups, with facilitation support from MAF-SoL officers, sold 6.6t of Sele maize seeds and 2.3t of seeds to iNGOs namely World Vision and CRS at USD1.50/kg.
SoL supported fourteen training courses on informal seed production during the year.
Component 4 is designed to strengthen the MAF capacity to manage the national seed system. SoL coordinated the formulation of a National Seed Policy during 2012, some principles of which were being implemented in 2013 prior to policy finalization. The draft was formulated with the assistance of a National Seed Policy Working Group with representatives from Government (MAF), non governmental organizations (NGOs), development organizations and farmers. An inventory system for SoL seed is being expanded to encompass the national seed program as the policy is fully developed.
The Monitoring and Evaluation/Social Science (M&E/Sosek) Unit increased in number to five at the end of December, 2012 with the assignment of a MSc graduate from Australia. The Baseline Survey Report was finalized and published during the year and competency assessments of SoL personnel completed. This is being used as a training guideline.
A seed system gender strategy was drafted during the year. The short term gender advisor spent two months developing a work plan for Gender in SoL. An action plan for each component has been developed and personnel trained on Gender in Agriculture perspectives. The MAF assigned two persons to work on gender activities in MAF/SoL.
SoL personnel published 4 refereed papers in scientific journals and four other were edited for inclusion in conference proceedings and an ACIAR publication. Two more papers were drafted and submitted to scientific journals. Program reports were also printed for distribution. These include the 2011 Annual Research Report, Baseline Survey, and others. In addition there were three conference presentations, and printed material including banners, information booklets, brochures maps and brochures.
SoL activities received considerable publicity during the year both on local and international TV in addition to publicity in local press. Included were visits by the MAF Minister and Secretary of State to SoL activities during the year with publically expressed support for the program on local TV.
Educational climate information posters were produced during the past year. Included in the posters were recommendations for 5 key farming adaptations. An analysis of ENSO cycle impact on the climate of each of 13 districts was also completed and a terracing report released. There was also a mapping analysis of pH and Fe & Zn deficiencies in the nation. The state of the nations’ weather stations and Ag-met data was developed in collaboration with MAFs Agricultural Land Geographical Information System (ALGIS) staff.

Year 3 of Phase 3 (Seeds of Life 3)
The Seeds of Life (SoL) program completed its third year of operation at the end of January, 2014. By the end of May, 2014 it was well into its first year of transition to full management by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) by the end of July, 2016. The project reports progress by the components of a) Crop identification and development, b) Source seed and commercial seed quality control, c) Community and commercial seed development and d) Seed system management. Capacity building is an integral part of the program and is imbedded in each component. A summary of the year’s training activities is presented separately.
The crop identification and development component has the objective of identifying and releasing improved food crop varieties. In earlier years, SoL assisted MAF to rehabilitate its research centres. This contribution ended in 2014 and facilities are available for research in the major Timor-Leste agro-ecosystems. Improved genetic material was imported from regional CGIAR research centres and affiliates. Included in 2013 introductions were quality protein maize germplasm.
Forty three (43) replicated agronomic trials on 12 different species were performed on research centres during the last wet season and 19 during the dry season. In each trial there were between 12 and 100 different entries. As a result of these trials a number of promising varieties were identified for evaluation on farmers’ fields under farmer conditions.
A total of 302 non-replicated on farm demonstration trials (OFDTs) of two or three entries each were installed in 13 sub-districts during the 2012-2013 wet season. This number was increased to over 700 in the 2013-2014 wet season. Potential new varieties being investigated for release included sweet potato, cassava, winged bean, velvet bean, red bean, mung bean and rice. All varieties were evaluated for eating quality and farmer preference. Although many varieties were highly appreciated by farmers and other consumers, no new crop varieties were released in 2013-2014, but final investigations were made for the release of a starch quality cassava variety.
The source seed and commercial seed quality control component ensures that there is sufficient quality seed of released varieties available for distribution to seed multipliers. Initially, the program was designed to multiply sufficient seed to supplement seed distribution to farmers. However, in recent years, bulk multiplication has been left to community and commercial seed multiplication.
To ensure sufficient quality seed is available, Government district seed officers (DSOs) contract seed growers in six districts to produce seed (and planting materials) of maize, rice, peanut, cassava and sweet potato. Additional cassava multiplication is done at Betano and Loes research stations. In 2012-2013, 134 contract growers (29 females and 105 males) participated in the program. They produced approximately 26.6t of rice, 42t of maize, and 8t of peanuts and also distributed 368,000 sweet potato cuttings and 136,000 cassava cuttings.
The capacity of MAF staff to manage the production and distribution of high quality seed as well as perform quality control procedures were enhanced through a series of short training courses and a visit to another seed technology program in Indonesia.
Community and commercial seed development activities expanded into all 13 of Timor-Leste districts during the third year of SoL3. By May, 2014, there were 1,041 community seed production groups (CSPGs) with 14,415 members (30% women) involved in the program. These groups produced seed for themselves and distribution to relatives, friends and neighbours. Some CSPGs amalgamated and formed into farmers associations (FAs) to pursue commercial seed production activities. In total, 31 Commercial Seed Producers (CSPs, including 19 FAs and 12 individual growers) were registered with the MAF Seed Department during the year to produce commercial seed.
Focal seed merchants in local markets were supported during the year to assist merchandise this locally produced commercial seed. The number of agricultural input stores in Timor expanded and sold not only seed but also animal feed, fertilizers and pesticides.
The concept of developing an improved seed access mechanism for the delivery of seed to vulnerable households was implemented in seven districts. Improved varieties of maize, peanuts and sweet potatoes were provided to 2,469 households (763 women- headed households) in these Districts.
The project facilitated CSPs to market their produced by linking them with leading NGOs. These purchases may be expanded with the MAF purchasing up to 160t of seed, thereby substituting a large portion of MAF’s annual seed import with local purchases.
The seed system management component is designed to strengthen the MAF capacity to manage the national seed system. SoL coordinated the formulation of a National Seed Policy that was endorsed by the Minister in March 2013. To administer the implementation of the National Seed System for Released Varieties (NSSRV) two guidelines were prepared and promulgated in June 2013. The guidelines outline the steps to license Commercial Seed Producers and for quality control and assurance. The NSSRV includes research for the identification, development and release of new varieties, multiplication of seed and cuttings according to quality control guidelines and monitoring of national and district seed demand to set annual seed production and supply targets.
The NSSRV was supported during the year by a Monitoring and Evaluation/Social Science Unit and a seed system gender strategy. The former implemented a series of studies to provide guidelines for the program and evaluate past activities. Included were mid-term survey and self-evaluations of MAF management staff capacity to manage the program. A number of guidelines were also developed to ensure gender equity in the program.
SoL personnel published four refereed papers in scientific journals and 12 others were edited for inclusion in conference proceedings. Two more papers were drafted and submitted to scientific journals. Nine program reports were also printed for distribution. These include the 2012 Annual Research Report, the Mid-Term Survey and others. In addition a large amount of printed material was produced including banners, information booklets, brochures and maps.
SoL activities received considerable publicity during the year both on local and international TV in addition to publicity in local press and some community radio. Included were visits by the Australian Minister for International Development, maize harvest ceremonies and a study mission to Indonesia.
Educational material developed and distributed included booklets, brochures, calendars, posters and signs. Posters included those outlining best practices for CSPGs to produce good seed. The benefits of released varieties were also promoted.

Year 4 of Phase 3 (Seeds of Life 3)
The Seeds of Life (SoL) program completed its fourth year of operation at the end of January, 2015. By the end of May, 2015 it was well into its second year of transition to full management by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) by the end of June, 2016. The project reports progress by the components of a) Crop identification and development, b) Source seed and quality control, c) Community and commercial seed development and d) Seed system management. Capacity building is an integral part of the program and is imbedded in each component. A summary of the year’s training activities is presented separately.
The crop identification and development component has the objective of identifying and releasing improved food crop varieties. In earlier years, SoL assisted MAF to rehabilitate its research centres. Maize varieties with high levels of vitamin A were imported from IITA in Nigeria and improved soybean germplasm was imported from Indonesia.
Forty replicated agronomic trials on 11 different species were performed on research centres during the last wet season and 11 during the dry season. In each trial there were between 10 and 100 different entries. As a result of these trials a number of promising varieties were identified for evaluation on farmers’ fields under farmer conditions.
A total of 368 non-replicated on farm demonstration trials (OFDTs) of two or three entries each were conducted during the 2013-2014 wet season. For the 2014-2015 wet season, 491 OFDTs have been established. Potential new varieties being investigated for release included rice, sweet potato, winged bean, climbing red bean and mung beans. The most recent variety release was in May 2014 of a starch quality cassava.
The source seed and quality control component ensures that there is sufficient quality seed of released varieties available for distribution to seed multipliers. Initially, the program was designed to multiply sufficient seed to supplement seed distribution to farmers. However, in recent years, bulk multiplication has been left to community and commercial seed producers.
To ensure sufficient quality seed is available, Government municipal seed officers (MSOs) contract seed growers in six municipalities to produce seed of maize, rice and peanut. Cassava and sweet potato multiplication in 2014-2015 was done at the Betano and Loes research stations. In 2013-2014, 176 contract growers (67 females and 109 males) participated in the program. They produced approximately 7.9t of rice, 17.5t of maize, and 7.5t of peanuts. In 2014-2015, 240,000 cuttings of sweet potato and 128,000 cuttings of cassava were produced on the two research stations.
The capacity of MAF staff to manage the production and distribution of high quality seed as well as perform quality control procedures were enhanced through a series of short training courses..
Community and commercial seed development activities occur in all 13 municipalities of the country. By February 2015, there were 1,267 community seed production groups (CSPGs) with 15,750 members (31% women) involved in the program. These groups produced seed for themselves and distribution to relatives, friends and neighbours. A total of 160 CSPGs amalgamated and formed associations of Commercial Seed Producers (CSPs). In May 2015, there were 58 CSPs registered with the MAF Seed Department to produce commercial seed.
A total of 26 Agriculture Shops in the 13 municipalities started to sell improved seeds sourced from CSPs in 750 g and 1 kg packages. These agricultural input stores also sell vegetable seeds, animal feed, fertilizers and pesticides.
The concept of developing an improved seed access mechanism for the delivery of seed to vulnerable households was implemented in seven municipalities. In 2014-2015, improved varieties of maize (7.3 t), rice (819 kg), peanut (191kg) and sweet potato (748,000 cuttings) were provided to 5,830 households (1,831 (32%) women-headed households) in these municipalities.
Between Oct-Nov 2014, the program facilitated the purchase of 47 t of maize from the CSPs by MAF. These purchases substitute a large portion of MAF’s annual seed import with local purchases.
The seed system management component is designed to strengthen the MAF capacity to manage the national seed system. Following up on the formulation of the National Seed Policy in 2013, and its implementation through the National Seed System for Released Varieties (NSSRV), the focus of support in 2014-2015 was the establishment of the National Seed Council. The program also started to conduct Municipal Seed System (MSS) Annual Workplan and Budget meetings, to help the municipalities in preparing their budget requests to ensure that activities related to MSS can be sustained.
The NSSRV was supported during the year by a Monitoring and Evaluation/Social Science Unit and a seed system gender strategy. The former implemented a series of studies to provide guidelines for the program and evaluate past activities. Included were an adoption survey and self-evaluations of MAF management staff capacity to manage the program. A range of gender activities were implemented in all program components.
Over the reporting period, SoL personnel published three refereed papers in scientific journals. Five program reports were produced, of which two (i.e. the 2013 Annual Research Report and the Adoption Survey 2014) were also printed for distribution. In addition a large amount of printed material was produced including banners, information booklets, brochures and maps.
SoL activities received considerable publicity during the year both on local and international TV in addition to publicity in local press and some community radio. Included were visits by the President, the Minister of Agriculture and the Australian Ambassador.
Educational material developed and distributed included booklets, brochures, calendars, posters and signs. Posters included those outlining best practices for CSPGs to produce good seed. The benefits of released varieties were also promoted.

Year 5 of Phase 3 (Seeds of Life 3)
The Seeds of Life (SoL) program completed its fifth year of operation at the end of January, 2016, and the program closes on 30 June 2016. The project reports progress by the components of: a) Crop identification and development, b) Source seed and quality control, c) Community and commercial seed development and d) Seed system management. Capacity building is an integral part of the program and is imbedded in each component. A summary of the year’s training activities is presented separately.

The crop identification and development component has the objective of identifying and releasing improved food crop varieties. In earlier years, SoL assisted MAF to rehabilitate its research centres.
In 2015-2016 no new genetic material was imported, but in 2016 MAF intends to introduce 30 large seeded bean varieties, and a range of potato varieties for testing.
Eleven replicated agronomic trials were performed on research centres during the 2015 dry season, and 40 trials for 11 different species were planned for the 2015-2016 wet season. For the on farm demonstration trials (OFDTs), there will approximately 400 trials conducted by 13 researchers. All research station and on-farm trials are now fully funded by MAF.
In April 2016, seven new varieties were released by MAF: one rice, two sweet potatoes (including a local, purple one), two kidney beans and two mung beans. In total 18 crop varieties have been released with SoL assistance.

The source seed and quality control component ensures that there is sufficient quality seed of released varieties available for distribution to seed multipliers, which since 2012 are primarily community and commercial seed producers.
Quality seed of maize, rice and peanut is produced by contract growers in six municipalities, under supervision by Municipal Seed Officers (MSOs); cassava and sweet potato multiplication is done at the Betano and Loes research stations. In 2014-2015, 106 contract growers (40 women and 66 men) participated in the program. They produced approximately 5t of rice, 15.2t of maize, and 10.6t of peanut. In 2015-2016, 154,000 cuttings of sweet potato and 128,000 cuttings of cassava were produced on the two research stations.

Community and commercial seed development activities occur in all 13 municipalities. By December 2015, there were 1,191 Community Seed Production Groups (CSPGs) with 14,670 members (31% women) involved in the program. These groups produced seed for themselves and for distribution to relatives, friends and neighbours. A total of 189 CSPGs amalgamated and formed associations of Commercial Seed Producers (CSPs). In December 2015, there were 69 CSPs registered with the MAF Seed Department to produce commercial seed.
There are 32 Agriculture Shops in the 13 municipalities that are selling improved seeds sourced from CSPs. These agricultural input stores also sell vegetable seeds, animal feed, fertilizers and pesticides.
In late 2015, MAF contracted three companies to locally buy and distribute 100 t of maize seed, 100 t of rice seed and 7 t of peanut seed in 12 municipalities. The seed was distributed to the rural aldeias. The purchase and distribution of 3,5 t of maize seed in Oecusse was contracted to Anaprofiko, the umbrella organisation of CSPs.

The seed system management component is designed to strengthen the MAF capacity to manage the national seed system. A National Seed Policy was endorsed by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries in 2013, and in early 2016 the policy document was updated and translated into Portuguese for submission to the Council of Ministers. The National Seed Council, and the Committees that are part of it, continue to operate well. At municipal level, the capacity for management and operation of Municipal Seed Systems is being strengthened.
The National Seed System (NSS) was supported during the year by a seed system gender strategy and a Monitoring and Evaluation/Social Science Unit. A range of gender activities were implemented in all program components. The M&E/Social Science Unit implemented four case studies, and in February-March 2016 a nation-wide end-of-program survey was conducted. This survey found that close to 50% of all foodcrop farmers in the country are growing one or more of the improved varieties. In the last year the program has also conducted five impact assessments: collaboration with other agencies and development partners; environmental impact; gender impact; capacity building impact; and an economic and financial impact assessment.

Over the reporting period, SoL personnel published 5 refereed papers in scientific journals. In April 2016, the program organized an ACIAR-supported international conference on “Food security in Timor-Leste through crop production” at which 21 papers were presented. These will be published as an ACIAR Monograph before the end of June, 2016. At the conference there were also 56 posters on display, as well as 13 municipal seed system stands and partner organizations stands.
SoL activities received considerable publicity during the year both on local and international TV in addition to publicity in local press and some community radio. Included were visits by the President, the Minister of Agriculture and the Australian Ambassador.

Project ID
CIM/2009/049
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
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, East Timor
Seeds of Life Program, East Timor
Project Budget
$26,470,478.00
Start Date
01/02/2011
Finish Date
31/01/2016
Extension Start Date
01/02/2016
Extension Finish Date
30/09/2016
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr Eric Huttner