Theory, practice and results of food crop variety evaluation and release in Timor Leste 2001-2015

Robert Williams, Harold Nesbitt, Claudino Nabias, Ermelinda Hornai, Luis Pereira, Luis Almeida, William Erskine

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paperpeer-review


From 2001 to 2016, the Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries accelerated the process of Timorese farmers selecting and choosing new varieties of staple food crops. During this period, more than 500 varieties of 13 species were evaluated in joint research/farmer trials, resulting in the national release of 18 improved varieties. Introduced varieties were first evaluated on research stations along with the best available local varieties, and then rigorously tested with farmers in their fields. On-farm testing of a small
number of elite varieties was conducted in farmer-managed trials using their current level of technology and with no additional inputs. More than 4,000 on-farm trials were conducted between 2005 and 2015. Two principles governed plant introductions: all selected varieties had to be suitable for use by subsistence farmers, and introduced material needed to be free intellectual property. All tested varieties were either open pollinated (no hybrids), pure line or clonal and conventionally bred (no genetically modified material).
No varieties were released to farmers that could not be shared freely with family, neighbours and across generations. The first varieties were released in 2007, and for the next 8 years their adoption was relatively rapid compared to other variety release programs, with one in three farming households growing at least
one released variety by the end of 2014. It is estimated that the use of these improved varieties increased the farm gate value of food produced by approximately US$4.4 million that year.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFood security in Timor-Leste through crop production
PublisherThe Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
ISBN (Print)978 1 925436 49 5
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016
EventProceedings of TimorAg2016: an international conference held in Dili, Timor-Leste - Dili, Timor-Leste
Duration: 13 Apr 201615 Apr 2016


ConferenceProceedings of TimorAg2016


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