Researcher Rafael Feliciano with an Ai-luka 4 cassava plant

The East Timor Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) is pleased to announce the release of two new high-yielding, sweet cassava varieties, named Ai-luka 2 and Ai-luka 4.

The name Ai-luka was chosen by His Excellency Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, and comes from the Tetum Terik word for cassava. The even numbers indicate that they are sweet cassava varieties, suitable for eating. Odd numbers are used to name bitter varieties, which are for industrial use only.

The release of Ai-luka 2 and 4 is based on the results of extensive research conducted by the Seeds of Life program within the Division of Research and Specialised Services. More than 60 varieties of cassava were trialled throughout East Timor from 2001-2008.

These two new varieties of cassava came from Malang, Indonesia through cooperation with the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and were trialled under the names Ca15 and Ca26.

Ai-luka 2 and 4 were chosen because of their high yield and good flavour, and the positive response from farmers. They produce a yield 51-65% higher than local varieties, based on replicated and on-farm trials.

The release of Ai-luka 2 and 4 gives farmers throughout East Timor greater access to the varieties, helping farmers to increase their production and become more food secure on their own land.

MAF has now released nine new staple food crops through the Seeds of Life program. In March 2007 the Ministry launched a new variety of rice called Nakroma, three new varieties of sweet potato with the names Hohrae 1, 2 and 3, a new variety of peanut with the name Utamua, and two new varieties of maize with the names Sele and Suwan 5.

The release under this local name was approved with permission from the Research Institute for Legumes and Root Crops (RILET/BALITKABI) in Malang, Indonesia. Representatives from RILET/BALITKABI came to Dili to participate in the cassava release program, which included an official launch at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries on 27 August 2009.