(Tetum) Growing and selling Sele maize is a big money-maker for Naroman, a registered commercial seed producer in Bazartete that has earned over four thousand dollars in two years from selling their quality commercial seed.
In 2014, only their second year of planting Sele for commercial seed production, this 56-member group (28 women, 28 men) from Fatunesa hamlet, Fahilebo village, Bazartete sub-district of Liquica district have had fantastic results with this improved variety, harvesting over seven tonnes of seed from five hectares.
Martinho dos Santos (44), Chief of Naroman, says the group plan to sell the seed to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) for distribution to other farming families.
“When we sell our seed, we save most of the proceeds as a group and already we’ve saved over $4,000. We sometimes use this money to help build our business, but we’re committed to keep saving our profits.
“Members also use their individual profits to support their families, renovate their homes and pay for their children’s school fees,” he said.
“In the past we’ve worried about getting low yields from local varieties, but now we don’t have to be concerned because Sele maize is good quality”
The group’s seed is commercial-grade, meaning they self-test it for physical purity, germination percentage and moisture content, then record the results on the seed packets.
MAF’s Seed Department also do spot checks on the seed to ensure quality is high and it meets the standards set under the Guidelines of the National Seed System for Released Varieties.
Naroman first heard about the improved Sele maize from their suco (village) extension officer in 2012, and have been very happy with the benefits it’s brought to their lives since then says Martinho.
“Thanks to our good production results, the members are able to make a good living but also get food to eat,” he said.
Leader of Fahilebo village, Felisminio Babo dos Santos, says the group’s success has had a positive influence on the whole community.
“I encourage the group to share information about Sele maize with other communities that don’t know about it.
“In the past we’ve worried about getting low yields from local varieties, but now we don’t have to be concerned because Sele maize is good quality,” he said.
“Everyone knows that if they want these good seeds, they can get them from Naroman,” Felisminio said.
Martinho says the group will continue to grow and sell Sele seed so the East Timor Government can reduce its maize seed imports from other countries.
“We have decided to increase our existing 5 hectares to 10 hectares for the coming cropping season,” he said.