(Tetun) The new Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Estanislau da Silva, has praised the MAF-SoL program for helping Timorese farming families grow more food.
“Seeds of Life (SoL) is an important program because it assesses and tests new varieties to improve seed production. Good production needs good seeds.”
H.E. Estanislau was speaking at the quarterly MAF-SoL Program Management Team meeting on 20 February, his first involvement with the program since taking office on 16 February as part of the new VI Constitutional Government.
In his address to MAF National and District Directors and MAF-SoL staff in attendance, he stated that the program was key to increasing agricultural production in Timor-Leste.
“The objective of SoL is to produce seeds in the country and then organise farmers to sell the seeds to others. Or if they do not have capacity to buy seed, then the government can purchase and distribute them to help the farmers.
“This will change subsistence agriculture to income-generating agriculture and we will have a diverse range of new crop varieties,” he said.
He thanked the MAF-SoL team and the Australian Government for their assistance to the people and Government of Timor-Leste.
Minister Estanislau replaces Mariano Assanami Sabino who served as the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries from August 2007 to February 2015.
A key achievement during Assanami’s tenure was launching the National Seed System for Released varieties in mid-2013, as a way to guarantee farmers have secure access to high quality seed at planting time.
Together these initiatives will help ensure that by the end of the SoL program in June 2016 at least 50% of Timor’s crop-producing households will be routinely using and accessing improved crop varieties.
Minister Estanislau returns to the role he held previously following Independence in 2002 when he was appointed the country’s first Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. He continued in this role for five years and was the acting Prime Minister from May to August 2007 before Xanana Gusmao came to power.