How Better Seeds Make Timor-Leste Climate Resilient

Fellows 2015

By Jerry Redfern

December 09, 2015

Also aired on SciDevNet

For places such as Timor-Leste, a small South-East Asian country that is prone to weather extremes, climate change could deliver a serious blow.

Drought and post-harvest losses from problems such as poor storage already worsen poverty and malnutrition in a country where 40 per cent of under-fives have stunted growth.

The project Seeds of Life is designed to improve food security in Timor-Leste by helping farmers produce and distribute improved seed varieties, which they use themselves but also sell for profit, driving the local supply chain.

Only a few years before the project began, the government used to import 300 to 400 tonnes of seeds each year, but now farmers grow maize, peanuts, cassava and sweet potato independently.

SciDev.Net travels to Timor-Leste to learn more about the project and why it has proven successful while similar initiatives have failed.

Karen Coates and Jerry Redfern reported from Timor-Leste on a fellowship with the International Reporting Project (IRP).