A program to alleviate hunger in Timor-Leste has been deemed a success leading to an agreement to continue the program into a third phase.
A collaboration between the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, AusAID, UWA, and the Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the new Seeds of Life III program aims to increase production of Timor-Leste's staple food crops. It builds on Seeds of Life I and II which began in 2001 to develop a sustainable national seed system.
Timor-Leste is among the world's 10 poorest countries where about 40 per cent of households rely on subsistence agriculture. Many experience hunger for up to four months a year. Food insecurity mostly affects the poor and households headed by women.
UWA's Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture and the UWA Institute of Agriculture has been involved in Seeds of Life II, working towards increasing crop yields by selecting and distributing improved varieties of seed.
This third phase, Seeds of Life III, which began in February 2011, will continue to build East Timor's capacity to feed itself. Most of its rural population produces insufficient crop staples to last a full 12 months and continues to import 60 per cent of its rice to feed the expanding population, which stands at 1.2 million.
This scenario presents a challenge for the project's next stage, which will build on milestones achieved in Seeds of Life's first 10 years, including the development and initial strategic distribution of new crop varieties, and significant food productivity improvements.
What: Celebration of Seeds of Life in Timor-Leste
When: Thursday 21 July, 4.30pm
Where: Prescott Room, Vice-Chancellery, UWA.