(Tetum) “I am happy,” says Filomeno da Cruz (55), a cassava farmer living in Camlor, suco Luca, Viqueque district, “I’ve planted cassava for just six months, but I’ve felt the benefits already.”
Filomeno da Cruz became involved in seed production in July last year as a contract grower for the Ai-luka 2 and Ai-luka 4 cassava varieties released in 2009 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) and Seeds of Life (SoL).
As a contract grower, Filomeno received an initial source of planting materials which he planted in his 2 hectare field to produce cuttings that are purchased by MAF-SoL for distribution to local farmers, farming groups and institutions that require them for the next planting season.
“It is good that MAF-SoL buys the cuttings, while we benefit by using the leaf and tuber as well. This has motivated us to continue planting cassava.”
As MAF-SoL only purchases the cuttings, Filomeno uses the tubers and leaves for home consumption and to sell at the market, generating him and his family added income.
“Because MAF-SoL buys only the cuttings, I have the resource of cassava tubers and leaves which we eat it at home or sell.”
Filomeno has used the profits from surplus cassava leaves and tubers to purchase two pigs, which are also fed the residual harvest.
“I bought two pigs; one male and one female. I raised them and fed with the cassava tubers and leaves that were not sold to the people at the market.”
From his initial purchase of two pigs, Filomeno now has more than ten pigs, with the aim to fill his pen with at least 20.
“As well as cassava, I also receive an income from raising pigs. When the pigs grow up, I can sell them for around $200 each depending on the size.”
“I hope that my experiences, can positively impact upon my neighbours so they can improve their lives. I can see that some of my neighbours have started to plant cassava and are now raising pigs”
From the income that he gets from cassava and pig farming, Filomeno provides his school-age children with their educational necessities, and covers the family’s daily living costs.
“I have eight children, some of them are married and some are studying in university and school.”
Moreover, Filomeno also shares cassava cuttings and tubers with his neighbours so they too can plant the released varieties, potentially increasing the community’s farming outputs.
“I hope that my experiences, can positively impact upon my neighbours so they can improve their lives. I can see that some of my neighbours have started to plant cassava and are now raising pigs.”
An estimated 10,000 cassava cuttings can be planted on a one-hectare cassava field. From one cassava cane, three to four cuttings can be harvested.