Farming families will have secure access to quality seeds of improved rice, maize and peanut varieties through the National Seed System for Released Varieties (NSSRV).

The Vice Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF), Marcos da Crus, made the NSSRV Guidelines for Licensing Commercial Seed Producers official at a meeting with MAF National and District Directors and MAF-SoL staff.

The guidelines outline the process stakeholders involved in the commercial production and marketing of seed of released varieties must follow to become registered commercial seed producers to ensure their seed quality remains high.

The MAF DG, 4 National & 13 District Directors with SoL Advisors at launch of the NSSRV and Guidelines

In his speech at the meeting the Vice Minister noted that food security begins with seed security.

“The National Seed System will improve the food security of Timor-Leste’s farming families.

“The system ensures farming families have enough quality seeds of more of the productive varieties of food crops at planting time” he said.

“By not having to buy seed from other countries and import, store and distribute hundreds of tons of maize seed and rice seed each year, the National Seed System will increasingly give the Government greater seed security and sovereignty”.

The National Seed System will improve the food security of Timor-Leste’s farming families

Seeds of Life (SoL) is collaborating with MAF and other development partners to build the NSSRV, which SoL Team Leader John Dalton says will greatly benefit Timor-Leste farmers and their families.

“Before the end of the SoL program in January 2016, every farming family in every aldeia of every suco should be able to access sufficient quantities of quality planting materials of improved varieties of maize, rice, sweet potato, cassava and peanut, regardless of when the opening rains fall,” he said.

Through the NSSRV farming families have access to quality seeds of released varieties at planting time

To date, a total of 10 improved varieties of staple crops have been officially released by MAF including three sweet potato, three maize varieties (yellow and white), two cassava varieties, one rice and one peanut variety.

In the coming 2013-14 crop season, 1,300 community seed production groups (about three per suco) and 24 registered commercial seed producers (one to three per district) will produce more than 230 tons of improved varieties of maize, rice and peanut seed.

Together with tens of thousands of locally produced cuttings of improved varieties of sweet potato and cassava, these seeds will be readily available for farmers, NGOs and the Government to use next crop season.

The promulgation of the NSSRV comes after the Minister’s endorsement of the National Seed Policy in March 2013, which helped established the foundations of the National Seed System.

In May this year, Timor-Leste’s central seed laboratory was officially opened by Minister Sabino, and 15 district seed officers and analysts appointed to provide quality assurance to the National Seed System.

In addition, six seed warehouses, two with seed laboratories attached, have been established in the districts.

These have the necessary equipment for trained seed officers to process (dry, clean, grade, package and store) and produce tons of certified seed of the improved varieties, a vital input to the other parts of the NSSRV, namely, the community seed production groups and the commercial seed producers.