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Agricultural innovations for communities for intensified and sustainable farming systems in Timor-Leste (AI-Com)

This project will help farmers in Timor-Leste to change from subsistence onto income-generating farming. It will improve agricultural productivity and profitability in pilot communities by addressing technical and social impediments to annual crop intensification and establishing fodder tree legumes and sandalwood as a sustainable income source and land management practice.
The Government of Timor-Leste intends to move from food security to improved nutrition and rural income. 79% of the labour force work in agriculture, and most rely exclusively on low input/output subsistence farming. The expansion of government and construction has created markets for agricultural products and opportunities for local farmers. Improvement in infrastructure makes diversifying production realistic, and electrification creates opportunities for accessing water.
Seeds of Life (SoL) has established a national seed system, and disseminated higher yielding varieties that more than 40,000 farmers have adopted. The SoL management team identified opportunities for generating income (geographic areas and the corresponding value chains) and research needed to develop these areas.
The project will research cropping intensification to produce legumes and grain for an emerging stock and food processing industry, and non-timber tree products (tree legume fodder and sandalwood, native to Timor-Leste) to diversify farm income and act as a buffer to climate variability. Sustainable land management will halt or reverse land degradation. These approaches will contribute to environmental sustainability and increase rural incomes. The research will be undertaken in two agro-ecological zones, covering a quarter of the country's population.
The project will improve farm profitability and productivity for 5,000 farming families. Development activities funded by other donors will scale out the results of this project so that as markets develop, most farmers in the target regions and beyond will adopt the proposed innovations. The technologies will develop the economy and make the local farming economy resilient.