To assess the progress of the early stages of the 3rd phase of the MAF-SoL (Seeds of Life) program over the last six months an AusAID Technical Advisory Group (TAG) composed of John Fargher and Greg Edmeades visited Timor-Leste during the first week of May.

The TAG was accompanied by Richard Brettell of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) which has been implementing the SoL program since its inception in early 2000, before MAF was formed. This second TAG mission followed an initial mission last October and will be repeated around May each year.  




The mission’s work included a two-day visit to Bobonaro District May 3 and 4 to assess the initial results of SoL3’s new Informal Seed Production and Distribution component and consult with some of the 280 community seed producer groups SoL established across the 7 involved during the initial year.

En route from Dili to Maliana the mission met with a farming family at Badotmean near Batugade who recently collaborated in an On Farm Demonstration Trial (OFDT) of the soon-to-be released high yielding white corn variety initially introduced as “P07” from Central Mindanao University, Philippines. Though slightly less productive than Sele at lower elevations (40% higher yielding than local varieties, versus Sele’s 45%) the farmer was excited by the yield and the size of P07 cobs and had retained some 20 kg of the best seed for planting next year. His neighbours were also very keen to access some white corn seed.


The Mission then visited MAF-SoL Community Seed Production Groups (CSPGs) in sucos Cailaco and Kotabo’ot which had each recently produced 200 kg of good quality seed of improved maize variety Sele now stored in a 200 litre airtight steel drum to prevent weevil and rat damage.  In suco Carabau the CSPG had produced seed of SoL’s improved peanut variety Utamua and in suco Lahomea they inspected a good crop of the SoL’s improved rice variety Nakroma the CSPG group of 10 men and 6 women was soon to harvest.

Apart from visiting these groups, TAG also paid visits to SoL’s recently established 2.0ha irrigated rice research station at Raimaten on the outskirts of Maliana where variety trials and foundation seed multiplication are proceeding and the major 20.0ha Loes Research Station in Liquica District. The Loes Research Station will be formally inaugurated by the MAF Minister and Australian Ambassador May 10.

The TAG mission concluded Monday May 7th with presentation of a draft aide memoire to the MAF-SoL team in MAF’s compound in Comoro, Dili. The TAG detailed the results of their assessment, commended the MAF-SoL team on very good progress to date and provided recommendations on areas wherein program impact might be even further improved.