(Tetum) MAF-SoL has been researching the positive impacts of growing Lehe, velvet bean in English, in cornfields to improve soil fertility.  Lehe is a legume that fixes nitrogen in the soil, increases organic matter and creates a mulch cover that smothers weeds. (more…)

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(Tetum) The Hon. Melissa Parke MP encouraged Timorese farmers to continue planting high-yielding varieties at a visit to a women’s seed production group in Liquica earlier this month.

As part of her three-day trip to Timor-Leste, the Australian Minister for International Development visited the MAF-SoL supported group “Haburas Agriculture” in Ulmera suco to see their maize and peanut harvests.

She encouraged the farmers to continue planting MAF-SoL varieties to produce more and better food for the Timorese people. (more…)

An a-MAIZE-ing show

On July 18, 2013, in English, by Kate Bevitt

Farmers enjoying the theatre performance in Lequidoe, Aileu

Farmers and communities around Aileu and Maubisse learned about improved techniques for maize production through theatre, dance and music earlier this month as part of a pilot trial of community theatre.

The pilot was run by Seeds of Life (SoL) in collaboration with Theatre of Timor-Leste, MAF and Charles Sturt University (CSU) and is the first time SoL has used theatre and music to share agricultural messages with farming families. (more…)

The maize harvest season for 2013 is now almost complete and has been good overall. Following the harvest ceremonies for Remexio and Lospalos, Natarbora started its maize harvest on Friday, 26th April.

A Community Seed Production Group (CSPG) in Suco Abat-oan, Natarbora, Manatuto, harvested their first cobs of the Sele variety of maize that were planted late last year.

“We were given 10 kg of seed of Sele maize seed by MAF-SoL and we planted it in our fields,” said the chief of the group, Urbano do Carmo dos Reis.

Urbano said this was the first time the group had planted Sele and they were happy with the results.

“Sele is good. The cobs and seeds are big and the results were impressive. We will continue to plant it.”

Suco Abat-oan CPSG members and communities harvested their first Sele

CSPGs are formed by farmers to produce seed for group members and their local community. Their objective is to ensure farmers have sufficient good quality seed to plant next season so they do not have to rely on seed from MAF or NGOs.

CPSGs are formed at the village (suco) level of a sub-district. They usually comprise around 10-15 members, with each member representing a household.

The CPSGs are then trained on seed production by SEO from MAF-SoL and provided with 5 kg of certified Sele seed to be planted in a 2,000 m2 plot that is isolated from other local corn crops by distance or time of planting to avoid cross-pollination.

Before the harvest season the group is also trained in proper drying, seed selection and storage and provided with equipment to support their work such as a tarpaulin, maize sheller and an airtight 200 liter seed storage drum.

During the 2011-2012 planting season, 320 CSPGs in nine district engaged in Sele maize seed production were supported by MAF-SOL and other NGOs produced 45,840 kg of Sele seed

The good quality Sele seed will be kept in the group’s seed storage drum until next planting season when it will be shared within the members of the group and their families, and any surplus stock will be sold, bartered or otherwise distributed to other members of the local community

During the 2011-2012 planting season, 320 CSPGs in nine district engaged in Sele maize seed production were supported by MAF-SOL and other NGOs produced 45,840 kg of Sele seed.

The MAF National Director of Agriculture & Community Development, Januario Marcal, said MAF would continue to support farmers to produce sufficient seed.

“MAF is committed to supporting CSPGs so that when planting season comes the farmers have their own good quality seed with them ready to plant,” he said.

The CSPG in Natarbora is one of 684 CSPGs established by MAF-SoL in 11 districts, i.e. excluding only Covalima and Dili which will be included from August this year.

MAF-SoL has also supported the farmers in Natarbora to improve production of other major food crops such us rice, peanut, cassava and sweet potato.

Last year the average seed produced per group was 159 kg. This was enough for all members in a group to have good seed to plant in the recent 2012-2013 season, to re-plant if necessary (e.g. after the opening rains in October were followed by a very dry November) and still have 30-40 kg to distribute for their relatives and neighbors to try.