(Tetum) With the maize planting season just around the corner, farming families will soon be choosing which varieties to grow this 2014-15 cropping season.

Here’s eight reasons why farming families love growing Sele and Noi Mutin, the two more productive maize varieties released by the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries in 2007 and 2012 respectively.


1. 
The seed is locally produced

Thousands of farming families are members of MAF-SoL community seed production groups across Timor-Leste that are growing these varieties, storing the seed after harvest so their members have good seed readily available to use the following planting season, including making it available to other farmers in their local community. This seed is not imported and Timorese farmers are using seed they themselves produced, helping their country improve seed and food security.

Lino and his family are part of a commercial seed producer group in Los Palos, growing and selling quality Sele seed © Unknown/Seeds of Life

Lino and his family are part of a commercial seed producer group in Los Palos, growing and selling quality Sele seed © Unknown/Seeds of Life

2. The varieties have a 40% yield advantage over other maize varieties

Farmers can benefit from getting bigger harvests just by using these maize varieties. Sele has been grown in Timor-Leste since 2001 and Noi Mutin since 2007, with both varieties proving to have consistently higher yields in research trials, many on-farm demonstration tests and in feedback from farming families.

‚ÄúSele and Noi Mutin are good varieties compared to the local ones. Sele is better because it has large cob and high yields.‚ÄĚ (Amelia da Cruz, member of Bilbeu CSPG or community seed production group, Liquica)

‚ÄúWe had a good yield and want others to have the same too, because this variety [Noi Mutin] is really good.‚ÄĚ (Egas dos Santos, Chief of St. Antonio CSPG, Liquica)

‚ÄúSele is great because it has good production; it has big seeds and big cobs. At the first harvest of Sele, I produced more than one tonne.‚ÄĚ (Lino Rui de Andrade, commercial seed producer, Lautem)

This farmer from Rai Mean commercial seed producer is sitting pretty on his group's bumper 2013-14 harvest of Sele maize © Jessy Betty/Seeds of Life

This farmer from Rai Mean commercial seed producer is sitting pretty on his group’s bumper 2013-14 harvest of Sele maize ¬© Jessy Betty/Seeds of Life

3. These varieties are open-pollinated and public domain

Sele and Noi Mutin maize are open-pollinated varieties that have been obtained through traditional plant breeding. Farmers can plant the varieties, harvest the seed and replant the seeds again the following cropping season. The varieties are public domain, meaning that farming families can use the varieties for free, forever. Neither of the varieties are hybrid nor have they been genetically modified.  

Young maize plants growing on a MAF-SoL research station as part of variety trials © Unknown/Seeds of Life

Young maize plants growing on a MAF-SoL research station as part of variety trials © Unknown/Seeds of Life

4. Broad adaption to Timor-Leste’s climate

Both varieties were rigorously tested on research stations across Timor and with farmers for at least five years prior to release. They are well-adapted to the different soil, climatic and weather conditions across all districts, with many farming families reporting good results in all 13 districts. The varieties are further helping to reduce hunger in Timor-Leste.

Noi Mutin and Sele maize varieties have been widely tested on research stations and with farmers © Unknown/Seeds of Life

Noi Mutin and Sele maize varieties have been widely tested on research stations and with farmers © Unknown/Seeds of Life

5. Sweet taste when eaten fresh

Prior to release the varieties were given a thumbs-up for their delicious flavour by hundreds of male and female farmers who participated in blind taste tests of maize varieties. Farmers found the varieties to be tasty and well-suited to the Timorese palate. Sele and Noi Mutin are also known to have a sweet taste when eaten soon after harvest.

Sele maize is sweet and delicious when eaten soon after harvest © Unknown/Seeds of Life

Sele maize is sweet and delicious when eaten soon after harvest © Unknown/Seeds of Life

6. The maize plants don’t fall over at harvest

At harvest time, the plants are still standing tall, making it easier for farming families to harvest the cobs. This is because the plants are more resistant to strong winds and drought compared with other varieties.

Sele cobs ready for harvest in Natarbora © Jessy Betty/Seeds of Life

Sele cobs ready for harvest in Natarbora © Jessy Betty/Seeds of Life

7. Cobs easy to sell when fresh

Farming families can easily sell the maize varieties soon after harvest because of their large cobs, which are greatly valued for their size. Many farmer families are making money by growing and selling the maize seed through the National Seed System for Released Varieties, helping to fund their children’s school fees and buy household necessities.

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These women from La’o Hamutuk contract grower group are happy to be making money by selling quality Noi Mutin maize seed ¬© Jessy Betty/Seeds of Life

8. The cobs and kernels are a beautiful, bright colour

Noi Mutin cobs are a vibrant white colour, while Sele corn cobs are a bright yellow colour. Their colours make them a beauty to look at and help spruce up any plate.

The Noi Mutin maize variety is a gorgeous white colour © Unknown/Seeds of Life

The Noi Mutin maize variety is a gorgeous white colour © Unknown/Seeds of Life

 

Are there other reasons why you love Sele and Noi Mutin maize? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts! Just comment using the form below.

Related content:

Hear from farmers who’ve grown Sele or Noi Mutin and the results they’ve had:

Watch this short animation to learn how to get good results from Sele and Noi Mutin, or learn how intercropping velvet bean with maize can help double yields!