East Timor has a major Food Security problem ranking third globally in the percentage of chronically malnourished children. This project aims to improve national food security by the improvement and dissemination of new cultivars of the staple food crops – maize, rice, sweet potato, cassava and peanut.

In 1999 the lack of germplasm of the staple food crops was identified as a key factor limiting agricultural production. Research has introduced and evaluated germplasm of the staple crops in participatory research with farmers. Dramatic productivity gains over local varieties were recorded across over 2500 farmer-managed trials. As a result new cultivars of the staples have been released by the Government of East Timor.  Adoption studies have tracked the dissemination of these new cultivars in six Districts and now beyond. Concurrently research has clarified rural household food insecurity in TL.  The proportion of ‘at risk’/food insecure households in TL has been reduced from 2006/7 to 2011/12. The focus of current research in to disseminate the new cultivars using a range of methods. This includes the formation of community seed production groups leveraging existing social capital to assist the process, the use of the national public formal seed system and of  non-governmental organizations and a range of media conduits.


  • International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)
  • International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
  • Kazusa DNA Research Institute
  • Department of Food and Fisheries (DAFF)
  • Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute