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Agriculture Workshop Report

Timor Lorosa'e Conference Sustainable Development –

Workshop on 27th Jan 2001




· Lack of communication and basic farmer education · Lack of crop diversification · Lack of market opportunities · Lack of agricultural training · Lack of organisational structure · Lack of government policies · Loss of traditional methods of organic farming · Lack of government support for local produce · Lack of specific agricultural education · Slash and burn farming · Lack of funds for local agricultural training · Lack of scientific evaluation of farming methods · Lack of micro-credit for small farmers · Lack of bottom-up planning · Need modern science to investigate those useful traditional farming methods · Need for coherent policy on slash and burn agriculture and recognition of the threat it is to infrastructure · Lack of irrigation policy · Farmers don’t understand organic farming · Shouldn’t accept World Bank policy on agriculture · Assumption that organic farming is best · Lack of staff  · Need for self-sufficiency · Poor transport and distribution network · Low farmer income · Damage from militia and Indonesian occupation · Need for adaptive trials before spreading methods and to get farmer support · Need for science teachers and equipment in schools · Agricultural extension workers who understand traditional knowledge and modern methods as two-way communication · Lack of clear boundaries for tenure · Need for land zoning policy · Food security needs a reliable source of seed and a good distribution network.



Priority Issues


The Need for bottom-up planning



§         A need for a system of planning from the bottom (farmers unions, groups of farmers who have interests)

§         Need for a representative of farmers and cattle farmers in parliament and government to fight for the interests of farmers and cattle farmers.

§         Training for farming communities to make bottom-up decisions and representatives.

§         There is a need for work networks between farming groups for actual information on development.

  • There needs to be work partners for farmers and cattle farmers (businessmen, research facilities, universities, banks and government).

Lack of communication and basic farmer education



·          Need to develop clear policy direction on agriculture

·          Appointment of extension officers  to coordinate the implementation of the policy

·          Funding to re-establish agricultural extension services including: housing, accommodation, basic  infrastructure, transportation, communications, training, instruments of information like brochures and leaflets, marketing systems

Lack of government resources



·          Government has to decide how it will deal with a free market economy

·          Agriculture department should suggest policies  based on expressed needs of farmers

·          Schemes similar to the Community Empowerment Program of the World Bank need to be used to  get information from grassroots elected village committees (voluntary)

·          Government should support and listen to NGO’s working with the grassroots

·          Establish a training program across East Timor explaining different types of farming with demonstrations and evaluation. Learning from positive local and international experience.

·          Use young people from agricultural school to do the training

·          Contact former agricultural staff to conduct short-term training projects (UNTAET has list of all graduates)

·          Many will do this voluntarily if they can see positive results come from their efforts that are good for the environment

·          International support for organic farming initiatives means there are opportunities for export

·          Develop a slash and burn policy

·          Logistical, technical and direction support from Government

·          10 year moratorium on introduction of any genetically engineered plant or animal material into East Timor

·          Any major infrastructure projects need to a thorough impact assessment, both environmental and social

Need a Policy for Land Zoning




·          Recognise ownership

·          Proof of ownership-proper land-titling system

·          Consultation with village heads/leaders, is it government or community land

·          Establish a government land office

·          Formation of technical group for land characterization, land mapping and establishment of GIS

·          Zoning should be done by the government in consultation with the community