(Tetum) Enterprising farmers groups across the country are discovering that the improved varieties released by MAF-SoL don’t just increase crop yields but are creating new money-making opportunities as well.
There’s no shortage in the diversity either with some groups selling Utamua peanuts to neighbouring farmers, others producing cassava chips from Ai-Luka varieties of cassava and others selling young sweet potato leaves of Hohrae varieties in local vegetable markets.
Abelina da Costa (59) is chief of the 11-member Feto Moris Rasik community seed production group in Lepa hamlet, Loeleta village, Liquiça district.
“Many other farmers have also asked for Utamua seed so they can plant it too”
The largely woman’s group, which includes only one male, first heard about Utamua from their MAF suco extension officer.
Abelina explains that the SEO trained the group in the best planting techniques, which helped them get good yields at harvest time.
“After harvest, we eat some of the peanuts, store some as seed for replanting and share seed with other farmers to plant. Any surplus is sold to other farmers in our suco”, she said.
Abelina’s group has planted Utamua for just two years, but already she’s successfully made some income by selling seed to neighbouring farmers.
“The money we’ve got from selling seed has been used to buy fuel for the tractor to plough the field and some is used for household necessities,” said Abelina.
“Many other farmers have also asked for Utamua seed so they can plant it too,” she said.
Abelina appeals for all Timorese farmers to plant Utamua as a way to earn some income.
“If I can plant Utamua, then I think other farmers can do it as well,” she said.
Another group of entrepreneuring women is the 40-member Feto Halibur Buka Moris (FHBM) group in Fadabloco village, Aileu district, that grows Ai-Luka 2 and Ai-Luka 4 and then processes the tubers to create cassava chips.
Chief of the group FHBM, Miranda de Andrade (44), said her group has had a very positive experience producing and selling cassava chips.
“We use Ai-Luka 2 and 4 to produce lime & chilli and garlic & pepper flavoured cassava chips. That’s what our group does in our suco.
“By doing so, we get income from it and it satisfies our needs,” she said.
Another inspiring story is that of individual women farmers from Bazartete, Liquica that sell the young leaves from Hohrae sweet potatoes in the market.
They source the leaves from other sweet potato farmers in Bazartete and surrounding sucos, and sell the leaves for a profit, which enables them to pay for their children’s school fees.
These stories are just a few of many playing out across the countryside, showing that the improved varieties are helping increase yield, income and livelihoods.