A new white corn variety was released on 27 July by the Minister of Agriculture. The new corn was given the Tetun name Noi Mutin. It has been tested on more than 500 farmer’s fields over the last 4 years and produces 30% more yield than the local varieties of corn.

Large white cobs of Noi Mutin, as grown in farmers field in 2011

It is prized by Timorese farmers because it is not difficult to pound and tastes sweet when cooked. It is resistant to low rainfall and wind damage and has moderate resistance to weevils. Noi Mutin is the first white corn variety to be released by the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Minister chose the name so that people would accept the new variety and take care of the seed. In English Noi Mutin means “white darling”, an affectionate term for young girls and sweethearts.

The Minister emphasised how important it was to protect the new variety. “When I was a child we were never allowed to let one grain of corn fall to the ground.  It was believed that if grain was wasted, the corn plants would cry and the future harvest would fail.”

At the launch, Luis Pereira informed the audience that “The variety was first brought to Timor-Leste from the Philippines. It was bred at Central Mindanao University in the southern Philippines and is internationally known as CMU Var12. When we tested it in Timor-Leste, it had the code name of P07”.

The introduction of this new corm variety will increase the gene pool of corn in Timor-Leste. All corn varieties have come to Timor from other places since the arrival of Portuguese almost 500 years ago. There has been a continual flow of corn varieties into Timor and Noi Mutin is the latest official entry.

The Minister and research team at the launch of Noi Mutin

Noi Mutin is an open pollinated variety, developed using conventional selection techniques. This means that farmers can keep their own seed and replant it from year to year, with no cost.

Seed of Noi Mutin will be available for expanded seed production by contract growers and community seed production groups in the 2012/2013 growing season.