(Tetun) The Australian Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Hon. Tanya Plibersek, visited the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries ‚Äď Seeds of Life (MAF-SoL) supported community seed production group (CSPG)¬† in Suco Mota Ulun, Bazartete, Liquica municipality, on Wednesday (15/4).

As part of her diplomatic visit to Timor-Leste, the Minister meet members of Haburas Moris Rasik CSPG to see how the MAF-SoL program impacted a small farmer community.

Minister Tanya Plibersek, visits Haburas Moris Rasik CSPG in suco Mota Ulun, Bazartete, Liquica © Yessy Betty/Seeds of Life

Minister Tanya Plibersek and Ambassador Peter Doyle with the members of  Haburas Moris Rasik CSPG in suco Mota Ulun, Bazartete, Liquica © Yessy Betty/Seeds of Life

‚ÄúIt is fantastic to see the huge difference the Seeds of Life program is making to this small community and much larger to farming communities in overall Timor-Leste,‚ÄĚ said the Minister.

‚ÄúI hope the program continues to reach its objectives and farmers benefit from increase production and increased income, to the benefit of the whole family and the community too.‚ÄĚ

Haburas Moris Rasik started planting Sele variety of improved maize in 2014. They were first supported with 20kg of certified Sele seed by MAF-SoL but were only able to plant around 5 kg in 0.25 ha field because of poor rainfall in the area.

© Yessy Betty/Seeds of Life

Minister Tanya Plibersek discuss with CSPG members to see how the MAF-SoL program impacted their group © Yessy Betty/Seeds of Life

© Yessy Betty/Seeds of Life

Some of 700 kg Sele production of CSPG Haburas Moris Rasik that will be keep for seed, to share with group members, and sell the surplus to family and neighbors © Yessy Betty/Seeds of Life

The group’s secretary, Angelo Alves, said that although they could only plant small portion they were happy with the first result.

‚ÄúWe are happy that Seeds of Life introduced good maize variety to our group. The quality and production is different to maize variety that we planted before.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúSele is good because the production is good and the cob is big. We are happy with the first result and we want to continue planting.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúIt is fantastic to see the huge difference the Seeds of Life program is making to this small community and much larger to farming communities in overall Timor-Leste,‚ÄĚ

“From 5kg of seed we are harvested around 700 kg. From the total harvest, we already selected approximately 400kg seed to keep some to re-plant in next season, to share with our members, and sell any surplus seeds to our neighbors.

‚ÄúWe will use the remaining for home consumption, to share with our members, sell to our family and neighbors and.‚ÄĚ

The Haburas Moris Rasik group consists of nine members (4 men, 5 women) and plans to expand their maize field to 4 ha in order to provide more food and seed for the group members.

During the discussion the group also shared their involvement in previous agro-forestry projects. Each year since 2003 they have been planting teak, mahogany and other economic trees. The Australian and SoL visitors were very impressed with the extent of the community’s forestry activities.