(Tetum) Seeds of Life is now working in all 13 districts of Timor-Leste following the official launch of activities in the Dili sub-districts in early September.

District and sub-district administrators, extension officers, chefe de sucos and MAF-SoL staff attended the launch event on 6 September to learn more about MAF-SoL and the planned district activities.

Secretary of State for Forestry and Nature Conservation, Jo√£o Cardoso Fernandes, during the opening speech

Secretary of State for Forestry and Nature Conservation, Jo√£o Cardoso Fernandes, opening the launch event

In his opening speech the Secretary of State for Forestry and Nature Conservation, João Cardoso Fernandes, said the Timor-Leste Government is working closely with Seeds of Life to better fulfil the country’s seed needs.

‚ÄúThanks to the cooperation of the Australian and Timor-Leste Governments, Seeds of Life is able to service farmers with access to improved varieties such as Sele maize, Nakroma rice and Utamua peanuts.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúI encourage everyone to work hard so we can do our job well, ensure the work in Dili‚Äôs rural sucos is successful and support farmers with quality seeds,‚ÄĚ he said.

MAF-SoL’s activities in the Dili district will include establishing up to 30 community seed producer groups in the 10 rural sucos starting in the Atauro and Metinaro sub-districts.

Extension staff will support the groups with best-practice advice in planting, storing and harvesting their crops.

“Thanks to the cooperation of the Australian and Timor-Leste Governments, Seeds of Life is able to service farmers with access to improved varieties such as Sele maize, Nakroma rice and Utamua peanuts”

MAF-SoL’s launch in its 13th district in Timor-Leste comes 12 years after it began in 2000 with a small team focused on variety trials and crop identification.

Over 33,000 farmers and their families are now using improved MAF-SoL varieties since MAF-SoL first started working in four districts in September 2005.

Rob Williams, currently SoL's Research Advisor, working with farmers in 2008

Rob Williams, SoL’s Research Advisor, working with farmers in 2008

Timeline of MAF-SoL’s district expansions
2005 – Aileu, Baucau, Liquica and Manufahi
2007 – Viqueque, Bononaro and Ainaro
2012 – Lautem, Manututo and Ermera
2013 ‚Äď Oecusse, Covalima and Dili

By the end of the SoL3 program in July 2016, MAF-SoL aims to have 65,000 crop-producing households routinely using, and be able to access, improved crop varieties.

Key to improving seed access is the National Seed System, which was launched in June this year. It will ensure farming families have secure access each year to quality seed in time for the planting season.