(Tetun) Seeds of Life’s efforts to improve food security in Timor-Leste have been praised in a recent aid evaluation report by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

The SoL program was given a green rating ‚Äď the highest possible ‚Äď for its good progress in seed distribution and policy development, a result of strong collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF).

Members from Buirudu commercial seed producer in Hato Udo, Ainaro district, show off some of the 1.8 tonnes of Sele seed they produced in 2013-14 © Ivan Lopes/Seeds of Life

Members from Buirudu commercial seed producer in Hato Udo, Ainaro district, show off some of the 1.8 tonnes of Sele seed they produced in 2013-14 © Ivan Lopes/Seeds of Life

The Aid Program Performance Report 2013-14, released in September 2014, evaluates the progress of the Australian Government’s aid program in Timor-Leste from July 2013 to June 2014.

According to the report SoL is well on-track to achieve its objective of ‚Äúincreased productivity of major staple food crops through farmers using improved seed‚ÄĚ.

Over 43,000 farming households are already using the improved varieties and SoL is ‚Äúlikely to reach more than the 65,000 households targeted by the end of the program in 2016‚ÄĚ.

The report acknowledged that MAF‚Äôs endorsement of the National Seed Policy in 2013 was a ‚Äúmajor achievement towards formalising a national system for quality seed‚ÄĚ.

This support and strong collaboration with MAF will help establish a sustainable transition of responsibilities when the SoL program is completed in June 2016.

Other MAF-SoL achievements acknowledged in the report include:

  • strengthening six research stations across the country to continue research and development into more productive food crop varieties;
  • establishing 1,086 community seed production groups across all districts, exceeding the SoL program target of 1,000 CSPGs;
  • implementing a gender action plan to better involve women in agricultural development;
  • registration of 31 commercial seed producers to encourage commercial marketing of seeds to reduce annual seed importation; and
  • partnering with DFAT‚Äôs Market Development Facility to encourage greater private sector engagement.
These female farmer has found a new business opportunity in selling young Hohrae 2 sweet potato leaves in Liquica market © Alexia Skok/Seeds of Life

This female farmer has found a new business opportunity in selling young sweet potato leaves of the MAF-released variety Hohrae 2 in Liquica market © Alexia Skok/Seeds of Life

This positive progress in 2013-14 builds on SoL’s activities in 2012-13, which also received a green rating from DFAT in the 2012-13 Aid Program Performance Report for Timor-Leste.