(Tetun) Gender Unidade Hun Besik,  a community seed production group (CSPG) from Beloi village, Atauro, Dili municipality, has been assessed as one of the top five groups who won the President’s Healthy Families Nutrition Award.

Alice Ximenes received certificate President’s Healthy Families Nutrition Award © PNPTL

Alice Ximenes received certificate President’s Healthy Families Nutrition Award © PNPTL

This award aims to recognize and commend female leader or women group who demonstrates outstanding innovation, commitment, and leadership to promote and improved nutrition in families and community.

‚ÄúSince we run our agriculture activities we are not worry about foods for our family, because we plant the foods. And usually the vegetables come from Dili, but now the foods also now close to the community.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúWe really happy that our group can contribute to improved nutrition in our family and community,‚ÄĚ said the group leader Alice Ximenes Soares.

‚ÄúSince we run our agriculture activities we are not worry about foods for our family, because we plant the foods. And usually the vegetables come from Dili, but now the foods also now close to the community.‚ÄĚ

The President of Timor-Leste, H.E Taur Matan Ruak, awarded the group with certificate and $1,200 cash at a ceremony on 13th Timor-Leste’s Restoration Day in Bobonaro municipality. The top group, Klibur Feto Maluk from Manufahi municipality, won $10,000.

‚ÄúThe money we will use to support group activities such as materials to water the sweet potato and vegetable plots, we also want to buy vegetable seeds,‚ÄĚ Alice added.

Alice Ximenes (left) with other top five President's Nutrition Awards © PNPTL

Alice Ximenes (left) with other top five President’s Nutrition Awards ¬© PNPTL

Gender Unidade Hun Besik group consists of 15 members (11 women, 4 men) and promoted improved nutrition by establishing sweet potato and cassava production centers with support from Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries (MAF) and Seeds of Life.

They planted of improved varieties of cassava (Ai-luka 2 and Ai-Luka 4) that provide calories from high levels of starch and improved varieties of sweet potato (Hohrae 1, 2 and 3) what are rich in complex carbohydrates. The orange-fleshed Hohrae 3 is also high in beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A).

Since establishment in August 2014 the group’s sweet potato production center has distributed around 44,200 cuttings of Hohrae 1, 2, 3 to 101 households in Atauro from which they earned more than $400 (1 cent/cutting).

ALice with one of group members weeding the sweet potato plot © Yessy Betty/Seeds of Life

ALice with one of group members weeding the sweet potato plot © Yessy Betty/Seeds of Life

‚ÄúWe really like Hohrae varieties because they grow fast, have large tubers and a good taste.‚ÄĚ Alice says.

‚ÄúWe sell only the sweet potato cuttings from our production center for communities in Atauro to plant. The young leaves and the tubers are used for home consumption but we will also begin to sell these to the community‚ÄĚ.

© Yessy Betty/Seeds of Life

Group’s cassava production center will be harvested soon the cassava cuttings ¬© Yessy Betty/Seeds of Life

The 0.5 hectare cassava production center was established in December 2014 and will soon be harvested so cassava cuttings can be distributed to farming families in Atauro.

Besides the cutting production centers, the group also has a tilapia fishpond, run livestock and plant and sell various fresh vegetables to local community, guesthouses and restaurants in Atauro.

‚ÄúThis award motivates us to continue our activities to promote improved nutrition. We will expand our fields of nutritious crops for our families and other Atauro communities‚ÄĚ.