(Tetun) Grupu Agrikultura Manufahi (GAM) is a farmer group in Loro village, suco Betano, Manufahi municipality. The group started their seed production activities in 2007 as contract grower producing certified seeds of MAF released varieties. In 2013, they registered with MAF to produce commercial seeds as well.

During the 2014-15 cropping season, the group was able to produce over 12 tonnes of commercial seed of Sele providing them with more than $18,000 from seed sales. That was a good year for the group.

© Yessy Betty/Seeds of Life

GAM seed producer members with the results of 2014-15 Sele commercial seed © Yessy Betty/Seeds of Life

“It was a great achievement for us. It also motivates us to continue producing good quality seed for our nation,” said the group leader, Joao Mendes.

Considering the benefits of selling seed, GAM understands the importance of seed quality, hence they assigned two group members in-charge of checking the quality of the seeds.

“MAF Seed Officers have regularly monitored and inspected our plantation to control the seed quality. But we also set our internal quality control to ensure that members process the same variety and not mixed with other varieties during the planting until harvesting.

“We do this because we want to maintain the seed quality. We want to avoid farmers buying mixed seeds as this might not give them good yield. If that happens, MAF or farmers won’t buy our seed again,” the chief alleged.

“Before, when planting season comes, we have to find an extension officer or travel to town to get seed. But now, we are the seed producer”

© Yessy Betty/Seeds of Life

GAM members doing seed scaling, packaging and labeling © Yessy Betty/Seeds of Life

The group also considers the importance of seed packaging and labeling to maintain seed quality.

“We usually rent a generator from neighbors in order to pack seeds using an electronic sealer and when we have to work until evening. But with income we got from selling seed, we have bought a generator to support our group’s work.”

Joao Mendes added, “Packaging is important, it must be airtight to maintain seed quality. Labels are also important to show information from MAF Seed Laboratory such as moisture content, physical purity, germination percentage, test date and expiry date,”

“It also shows seed producer’s address and contact number, so if farmers or organizations want to buy our seed they can contact us, or if the seed is not good they can contact us to complain.  It is good for farmers to know about all the information, so they will trust in our seed quality.”

Since their involvement as seed producers, members are acknowledging the fruit of their labor.

“We feel so much different now. Before, when planting season comes, we have to find an extension officer or travel to town to get seed. But now, we are the seed producer, we no longer wait for seed, but we produce it ourselves.”

“The members are also happy to be seed producers, they are experiencing some positive changes in their lives.. The income from their seed production activities is improving their family life.”

Membru PFK GAM husi Manufahi produs pakote tolu fini Sele (5kg, 1 kg, no 500g) © Yessy Betty/Seeds of Life

GAM seed producers produce three packages of Sele commercial seeds (5kg, 1 kg, no 500g) © Yessy Betty/Seeds of Life

For the coming cropping season, GAM plans to add more members and maize field to both commercial and certified seed. Currently they have 25 members and 19 ha maize field in total – 16 members with 10 ha to produce commercial seed and 9 members with 9 ha to produce certified seed.

GAM is also constantly looking for ways to improve their work to produce more good quality seed. Together with other commercial seed producers (CSP) around the country, they are hoping to meet the national demand for maize, and be ready when the government is poised to export their seed in the future.