The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) and the Seeds of Life (SoL) is proud to have one of its team members, Rob Williams, joining an exclusive group by being awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). The announcement was made in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honors list.

Rob Williams, Adviser for Research, was awarded the honour for his service overseas to humanitarian projects, particularly through SoL in Timor-Leste. Rob has led research work with SoL since 2004 in addition to being Team Leader in Phase 2 (2006-2010).

Seeds of Life is a program of the Australian Center for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) and is managed in collaboration with the University of Western Australia (UWA) as part of the Australian Government aid program to East Timor.

SoL has assisted thousands of farmers to produce more food by growing higher yielding varieties of corn, rice, sweet potato, cassava and peanut. The improved varieties of corn produce 40% more than traditional varieties and the three new sweet potatoes produce twice the yield in half the time (one is also high in carotene, provitamin A).

Williams (right) and OFDT Officer Inacio Savio Pereira proudly display an improved variety of sweet potato.

“Seeds of Life has been a very successful program. We have seen some farmers also selling sweet potatoes for the first time, and producing enough cash to put a tin roof on a previous grass hut,” says Rob.

The current Phase 3 of SoL is being implemented as part of MAF. Since “food security begins with seed security” it aims to establish a national seed system that enables community-based farmer groups in every village to produce and store seeds of improved varieties so they have good quality seeds on hand for next planting.


Mr Williams is expected to officially receive the medal in his home town of Brisbane in October.

Learn more about ACIAR and their programs here.