E. Seed system support functions
1) General agricultural research and practices
|Land restoration and climate change mitigation through low cost farmer managed natural regeneration in Timor-Leste
Segenet Tessema, Francisco Orleans, Natalino Cardoso Henriques, Roni Pati Tpoi and Kahukura Bennett
The majority of Timor-Leste’s population depends upon subsistence agriculture. As a result of this, households become vulnerable to extreme weather events which are exacerbated during El Niño years and expected to increase due to climate change. The concept of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) was born out of Niger in the 1980s with the aim of creating a productive environment resulting in sustainable development. FMNR includes many traditional practices worldwide, such as coppicing and pollarding. FMNR came to Timor-Leste in 2011, beginning in Aileu. Since then it has expanded to cover an area of 85.5 hectares in the municipalities of Aileu and Bobonaro. Communities which have implemented FMNR have been able to control soil degradation and landslides as well as utilise the wood for energy and construction while generating an income from fruit trees that are integrated into the system.
|Increasing agricultural production through green Manure of Tithonia diversifolia
Segenet Tessema, Nuno Tolentiono, Imaculada Mendonca Martins, Bendito Amaral Mascaranhas, Roni Pati Tpoi and Kahukura Bennett
Between the months of October and February 64-70% of households in Timor-Leste are considered to be ‘food insecure’. A leading cause of food insecurity within Timor-Leste is the lack of available food as a result of low yields. Low agricultural productivity is directly related to a lack of sustainable, reliable and affordable soil fertilizer. In response to this World Vision Timor-Leste (WVTL) began trials using the plant species Tithonia diversifolia. Tithonia contains large quantities of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, decomposes within two weeks and is found throughout Timor-Leste. WVTL compared yields of maize in trial plots fertilized with tithonia, animal manure and no soil treatment. Maize yields were on average one and a half times higher than the nation-al average, while yields were similar between tithonia and those plots fertilized with animal manure. Tithonia is a highly viable option for national expansion and increasing yields.
|Improving farm efficiency: Can maize farmers really triple yields?
Samuel A Bacon, Lino Rui De Andrade and Agustina Da Costa
A leading farmer on the plains of Los Palos agreed to trial innovative techniques and improved agricultural practices over a period of 4 years on 1.4 ha of land. The land was situated on the broad plains of the Los Palos plateau with acidic, calcareous soils with low phosphorus levels and a bimodal wet season. All inputs were paid for by the farmer through sales of production. The farmer kept a daily diary of all labour and number of workers. Improvements include using the new corn variety Sele, intercropping velvet bean, optimal plant spacing of 5 plants/m2, barbed wire fencing, fertilizer, soil testing, pest control, mechanized shelling and air tight storage. Yields increased progressively from 1 t/ha to 3.6t/ha while production costs per tonne decreased overall. The farmer continues to test new ideas which focus on reducing the labour especially for post-harvest production constraints of de-husking and shelling.
|Increasing community resilience in Oecusse
World Neighbors (WN), with USAID financial support are currently implementing the Increasing Community Resilience in Oecusse Project (ICROP). In the target communities, less than 10% of people are currently using safe and clean water from protected water sources. The project aims to increase this to more than 70%, through the conservation and protection of water sources, the adoption of community-based water resource management techniques and a community-based natural resources management approach. Other main activities include community trainings in contour farming/terracing, soil and water conservation, organic farming and local food crop production. ICROP builds upon the work WN has been performing in Oecusse since 2005, working through long-term local partners to improve food security, and to increase the resilience of communities to respond to the negative impacts of climate change.
Soils of Timor-Leste
Samuel A Bacon, Adalfredo do Rosario Ferreira, Ted Griffin, Robert Williams and Patrick Niemeyer
Timor-Leste is a land of rugged topography rising from sea level to nearly 3000 m within a short distance of 40km. Along its length of 275km there is a mountain range of steep slopes with shallow soils laid over fractured metamorphic bedrock and calcareous rock formations. The island of Timor was formed from the collision of the Indo-Australian tectonic plate with the Eurasian plate to the north. Calcareous rock from old coral reefs were forced out of the ocean and the underlying igneous (volcanic) and metamorphic (deep, heated and hard) rock layers from underneath the surface were exposed. This has resulted in a complex soil structure laid over extensively fractured parent material. The soils that have developed are a result of the underlying parent material, rainfall, weathering, erosion and deposition. Extensive soil surveys were conducted throughout the 1960s and these were collated as a set of soil maps, soil tests and characterisations in the publication, O Solos De Timor (Garcia and Cardoso, 1978). Several digitisations of the OSDT map set were compared and a final map corrected with reference to recent aerial photography. The associated soil information from 185 profiles, 144 soil associations, 64 soil complexes and over 200 recent soil tests were collated into a single spreadsheet data set. From this information a national soil map was created to assist in developing an understanding of the soils of Timor-Leste.
|TimorAgri: Over 300 documents, maps, and reports of agriculture in Timor-Leste
Robert L. Williams and Shakib Shahidian
TimorAgri is a digital library initially released as a CD in September 2004. It is a tri-lingual (Portuguese, Tetun and English) compilation of more than 300 documents, maps and reports on agriculture in Timor-Leste. However, as with many documents, the originals can’t be accessed by a new generation, wanting to learn about the agriculture systems of Timor-Leste. In January 2013, a copy of the original CD was copied to the internet at http://www.timoragri.fhost.com.au/. Since Jan 2013, TimorAgri has had 1963 hits, from 1426 users. This is about than 1.5 users per day. As TimorAgri reports are stored on a free web site, it shows that archival material can be kept on the internet at no cost, allowing future generations access to previous material.
|Raumuco Pilot Project
Frederico da Costa, Petronilo Munez Jr. and John Dalton
Raumoco is a 14,000 hectare ridge-to-reef watershed in northeast Timor-Leste covering 9 sucos of Lautem Municipality’s administrative posts of Luro and Moro Lautem. In 2012, through an EU program, stakeholders of Raumoco watershed formed the Raumoco Watershed Management Council and worked with international and local NGOs to prepare the Raumoco Integrated Watershed Management Plan that outlines the vision, aspirations and issues they faced and their priority development interventions. Raumoco Pilot Project began mid-2014 under RWMC oversight. It aims to pilot principles, approaches, strategies and techniques for community-based village development planning and implementation and demonstrate subsidiarity and empowerment, community development strategies, PRA techniques that engage families, farmer groups, aldeia and suco communities in suco development and land use planning and implementation that enables ‘managers’ at farm, aldeia, and suco levels to manage their iterative learning process so their mentored experiences and learnings build their capacity to manage their ongoing development.
|Good agricultural practice approach to increase maize production in Timor-Leste
Claudino Ninas Nabais, Januario Marçal, Guilherme Quintão and Benjamin Guterres
This research paper compares the application technology of Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and farmer’s own method on maize demonstration plots (demplots). Maize is a major food crop, grown under subsistence farming with average productivity only 1.5 t ha. Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) in partnership with German Cooperation (GTZ, now GIZ) tested a new agriculture technology package to increase maize production in farmer’s fields. The research was carried out from November 2012 to April 2013 in 210 of 420 villages from different types of agro-ecological with total of 205 demoplots. Three MAF recommended maize varieties, Sele, NAI and Noi-mutin were used in the demonstration. Each demplot consisted of 2 treatments, one treatment was GAP technique and the second was normal practices. The large number of demplots conducted in wide range locations with various management conditions provided a wide range of maize yields. The package was land preparation, plants distance with number of seeds per hole, time and frequency of weeding and pest and diseases control. The result showed that GAP technique increased maize yield by 61% (2.45 versus1.55 t ha-1 with normal practices). The highest yield was found in Mehara, Lospalos, with 7.71 t ha-1. However, extension service is still considered as a major constraint to promote this technique.
|Rice biochar in 30 minutes
Robert Williams, Luis de Almeida and Peter Dougan
Rice biochar is a high value product that can be made from rice hulls, a waste product from rice milling. There is a demand for rice biochar from horticulturists for making sterile seedling mix, for raising healthy seedlings.Rice biochar may also be beneficial in increasing rice yields in a sustainable manner. The current process of producing rice biochar is very slow (9-12 hrs) and requires a reasonable level of skill. A new quick method (30 minutes) has recently been tested in Timor Leste and has proven to produce quality rice biochar.
|Effective seed storage program in Timor-Leste (ESS)
Mercy Corps’ funded Effective Seed Storage in Timor-Leste (ESS) Program has an overall goal to design and develop sustainable and scalable farmer seed storage models in Timor-Leste. Activities to strengthen and transform business model of the local tinsmiths, the producers of metal storage bins has been identified by the Program’s Final Evaluation as a key factor to program outreach and to sustaining the access to improved storage system for poor households. The program has contributed to an average 2.1 month increase of food self-sufficiency or an increase in 84% from the baseline among target beneficiaries. The reported decreases in post-harvest losses were: 87.7% for maize, 80.3% for rice, and 73.7% for beans. The survey also indicated that farmers’ return on investment in the improved storage system can be reached easily within less than 2 years. In addition, it was reported that: (i) 57% farmers are adopting better seed selection techniques; (ii) 60% farmers are adopting better practices of seed drying; (iii) 89% farmers are storing local varieties separate from improved varieties; and (iv) 97% of farmers are storing food separately from seeds for improved varieties and 89% for local varieties.
|Maize storage in drums in the Raumoco watershed area
Sabilio dos Santos, Laurentino Ximenes, Petronilo P. Muñez Jr. and Luc Spyckerelle
Maize is still a major staple food crop in rural Timor-Leste. One problem with traditional maize storage methods is that farmers may lose 30% or more of their harvest, mostly because of weevils. If maize is stored air-tight, like in a 200 l metal drum, the weevils do not survive, and the farmers can keep nearly all their maize. In collaboration between the Seeds of Life program and the Timor-Leste Maize Storage Project, in mid-2014 a total of 1,800 drums were distributed to 819 households in the Raumoco watershed. With each drum, the farmers also received a 1.5 l bottle of improved maize seed. One year later, in Sep-Oct 2015, 18% of these farmers were interviewed, to know whether they had planted the improved seeds, and whether they used the drums to store their maize. Basically all the farmers (97%) had planted the improved seed they had received, and 72% of the drums stored maize at the time of the survey (to which should be added another 5%, for drums that were empty during the survey but which had stored maize before). The 250 drums with maize were on average 84% full. The drums allowed the surveyed farmers to save 11.3 t of maize, and the savings of US $ 8,505 was more than three times what they paid for the drums.