Increasing production of protein-rich family staples

Why we’re putting time, effort and resources into researching humble family staple crops. Timorese staple legumes like common beans and mung beans provide a vital source of nutrition for the estimated 50 per cent of households in Timor-Leste facing the complex problem of poor nutrition. But they’re time-consuming to plant and harvest, for too small …

Is Timorese sandalwood a species under threat?

The species of sandalwood native to Timor-Leste, Santalum album, is listed as a vulnerable species and is on the International Union of the Conversation of Nature (IUCN)’s global species red list. But how rare is it really in Timor-Leste? The IUCN considers a species threatened if the population is vulnerable to endangerment in the near future. …

Intensifying rice production systems in Timor-Leste

How our supported researchers are strengthening local staples for better family nutrition. If you haven’t eaten rice with your meal in Timor-Leste, you haven’t really eaten, people say. But despite its sacred place on family dinner-tables, rice crops in Timor-Leste produce the lowest yields in Asia. On average, a family farming rice can expect to …

Australian Senator visits sandalwood experiment site

Australia’s Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Honourable Anne Ruston, has today visited the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries/AI-Com research site at Liquica. The minister visited the MAF office, which includes a sandalwood nursery, where Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) and AI-Com staff and researchers showed the minister the results …

Melons in the desert: Strong results from Vermasse experiments

Staff and students from the University of Timor Lorosa’e (UNTL) last week harvested horticulture crops planted at the university’s research site in Vermasse, Baucau municipality in another successful demonstration of the potential of the experimental research site. The third group to conduct on-farm experiments at the site, 13 students from UNTL’s agronomy department harvested crops …

El Niño might be on the horizon, but no need for alarm

As the wind changes direction and Dili’s afternoons become stickier, you’d be forgiven for wondering when the rain will get here – and whether we’re perhaps set for another dry, desperate El Niño event, like that which wracked Timor-Leste in 2016. But don’t panic. A Pacific Ocean weather pattern that brings increased rainfall to South …

How to improve sandalwood growth for farming families’ livelihoods

The sandalwood tree is endemic to Timor-Leste and for centuries grew wild and abundant in its forests. But when people first tried to cultivate it, seeds were difficult to germinate, seedlings often withered and died in nurseries, while wild trees sprouted spontaneously. How does this happen? And why is the native sandalwood so difficult to …

AI-Com research working in rural development in Timor-Leste

Oxfam in Suai has successfully tested planting red beans on the south coast, inspired by AI-Com research. Last year, AI-Com-supported researchers were able to grow red beans along the south coast,at Natarbora, Viqueque and Betano—something farming families in the area could barely believe, as red beans have long been considered a cold climate crop incapable …

How we’re supporting a spirit of research

After researchers successfully grew ‘cold location’ red beans at sea level in Natarbora last year, enterprising students and farming families grew curious to see what else they can do. A surprising, unintended consequence of AI-Com’s work, this spirit of research has seen new crops being planted in different ways to bring farming innovations to communities …

How farming families in Timor-Leste are improving diets without extra effort

The humble mung bean is on first glance, admittedly, not the most exciting of crops: a short, shrubby plant with unremarkable pods housing small, dull-green beans, requiring hundreds of hours of effort to plant and grow. But that unassuming little bean provides a vital source of protein and other nutrients to thousands of households across …