(Tetum)¬†‚ÄúI am really happy to be involved in seed production with Seeds of Life, because since we started that my life has become better than before,‚ÄĚ said Anina de Jesus, a peanut farmer living in Ritabou village, Maliana sub-district, Bobonaro district.

Anina is chief of the six-member contract grower group ‚ÄėAselsam‚Äô that produces certified seed¬† of Utamua, the improved peanut variety released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) and sells it to MAF for use by other seed producers.

Since Anina first began planting the improved variety in 2008 she has had many positive changes in her life.

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Anina de Jesus at her peanut field. © Alexia Skok/Seeds of Life

“From the income I’ve earned over the last six years from seed production as a contract grower for MAF’s Seed Department, I’ve been able to better support my family financially.

‚ÄúPreviously our group planted rice and local peanut, but the results were not good so we didn‚Äôt receive much income. Now that we‚Äôre growing Utamua, we always get good results every year and sell our seed to MAF-SoL.‚ÄĚ

Anina was the first group member to grow Utamua, which she planted by herself in a one-hectare field. Fast-forward six years, and now the six-member group plants Utamua on six hectares, with each member owning one hectare.

“For the first three years we sold our harvest to MAF-SoL for $0.75/kg.

‚ÄúThe price has continued to increase over the last few years until now, where we sell for $1.25/kg.‚ÄĚ

“The money I get from selling seed is sufficient for me and my family to live on, but I wanted to create further business opportunities to make our life better.”

From each hectare they can harvest about 600 -1,000 kg of peanut seed and can earn around $800 by selling it to MAF-SoL. Some of the money they save for group necessities such as fees for the labourers to help them plant until the harvest and for fuel for the tractor.

“Our average income from selling the peanut harvest every year is $800-900. However if we get sufficient rainfall we can earn more than $1,000.

‚ÄúWe save $200 from each member‚Äôs profits for group necessities,‚ÄĚ she said.

With the money she made from selling seed, Anina has established other small businesses.

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Anina opens small business by selling gasoline and diesel to get more income for her family. © Alexia Skok/Seeds of Life

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Anina standing in front of her house. The house that build from selling peanut seed. © Alexia Skok/Seeds of Life

“The money I get from selling seed is sufficient for me and my family to live on, but I wanted to create further business opportunities to make our life better.

‚ÄúWe only plant peanut in the rainy season, so instead of doing nothing in the dry season I‚Äôve created some other small businesses to help support my family.‚ÄĚ

Four years ago Anina started selling gasoline and diesel fuel. She sells the diesel fuel for $1.50/litre and the gasoline for $1.40/litre.

In addition, Anina has opened a small shop in her house, raises pigs and fish to sell, and sells coated peanuts to schools.

‚ÄúThe peanuts that I don‚Äôt sell to MAF-SOL, I use for home consumption, to make coated peanuts, for use at cultural ceremonies and to share with other families who want to plant it.‚ÄĚ

From selling seed and and her  small businesses, Anina has use the profits to buy a motorbike for transport to the field, build a five-bedroom house, and send her family members to school and university.

‚ÄúI am really happy to be a farmer that plants Utamua. I will continue to plant it as it brings many benefits to my life”.

Learn more about Anina here: