Two years of innovating for farming families: AI-Com’s mid-term results

Learning what we’ve done and still must do to bring good innovations to Timor-Leste’s farming families.


Agricultural innovation project AI-Com has celebrated the end of its second year of collaborative research in Timor-Leste with a results meeting and publication launch today at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Comoro, Dili.

Attended by AI-Com partners and supporters, including representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the University of Timor Lorosa’e, the University of Western Australia, the University of the Sunshine Coast, World Vision, donor the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Australian Ambassador to Timor-Leste, the meeting summarised the second of AI-Com’s four years of collaborative research to bring farming innovations to families in Timor-Leste: displaying results and conclusions from research in areas including how to increase yields of staple crops like rice, mung beans and corn; how to grow cold-climate crops in more areas for more families; how to improve soil fertility for better crops; how to better grow non-timber trees for animal feed and income; and how informed community decision-making can improve local farming practises.

“We’re proud to work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research,” said his excellency Peter Roberts, the Australian Ambassador to Timor-Leste at the meeting, which included the presentation of research results conducted by local researchers, and the launch of a new booklet introducing the story of Timor-Leste’s valuable sandalwood tree.

“We’re helping to achieve innovating solutions for farming families in Timor-Leste, and accelerate the development of sandalwood, which has a long and important story and significant value in Timor-Leste.”

The booklet was officially launched by the Ambassador, representatives from ACIAR, the Ministry’s director-general for agriculture, Maria Odette Goncalves as the representative of the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, and director-general for forestry, Manual Mendes.

In her remarks, director-general Maria highlighted the long relationship between ACIAR and the Ministry, which began in 2002, and emphasised the importance of collaborative research and innovation for strong rural development.

“We know that 76 per cent of Timor-Leste’s population is involved in agriculture,” she said. “We must continue to do research to develop appropriate and adapted technology for farmers. The Ministry recognises this. With technology we discovered that the beans that grow at high altitudes can also be grown at low altitudes [if planted at the right time]. We must not be weary to continue learning more. We can continue to develop the agriculture sector in Timor-Leste through research.”

Results sharing from local researchers will continue this week and culminate with a field visit to Natabora for the visiting team from ACIAR, UWA and USC. The new sandalwood publication, Hanoin Ai-Kameli, is available to read and download in both Tetun and English here.

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