Programme profile

TOMAK: To’os ba Moris Di’ak (farming for prosperity)

Programme Index Listing

Location
Timor-Leste
Main implementer
Adam Smith International
Other implementers
Mercy Corps
Donor
DFAT
Duration
2016-2021 (+poss. 5 yr ext.)
Total budget
US $19 million (for the first 5 years)
Annual budget
US $4 million approx
Contact
info@tomak.org
External links
Further programme resources

Project description / objective

TOMAK is working with government, private sector and NGO partners in Timor-Leste to help farming families live more prosperous and sustainable lives. The programme has two key components.

  1. Nutrition-sensitive agriculture and social and behaviour change approaches for improved household food security and nutrition.
  2. Support for farmers to move from subsistence to commercial agriculture through the development of selected value chains.

Market system focus

1. Onions and shallots

Timor-Leste imports approximately $2.0 million (wholesale) of onions each year. Imported onions are often of mediocre quality and locally produced onions are preferred, leaving open an opportunity for import substitution by Timorese farmers.

Lack of technical capacity and access to improved varieties holds farmers back from producing the quantity and quality needed to compete with imports.   

2. Mung bean

The previous export of mung beans from Timor-Leste to Indonesia has ceased because of the strength of the US dollar and high production costs.

Introducing new higher yielding varieties and labour-saving techniques could help reopen the export market for Timorese farmers.

3. Peanut

Peanut is a low-input, low output crop that was previously exported from Timor-Leste to Indonesia.

Introduction of improved varieties and cultivation practices will help improve farmers’ competitiveness and could eventually allow for resumed export.

4. Red rice

Timor-Leste’s rice farmers are struggling to compete against the cheap import of white rice from neighbouring countries.

Red rice presents a more profitable option for farmers. However, current production is small and the quality of the finished product is poor because of the use of low yielding varieties and lack of technical capacity both at the production and processing level.

5. Pigs

Current pig production systems in Timor-Leste are extremely low input / low output, with most pigs left to scavenge. Knowledge of improved husbandry practices, particularly improved feeding, is very low.

There is reasonable local demand for fresh pork if productivity can be improved through better rearing practices and diets.  

Cross-cutting

Agribusiness skills development
The majority of the rural population remains engaged in subsistence agriculture.

Successful transition into commercial agriculture requires an improved understanding of how a market operates and knowledge of basic business management skills.

Strengthening the capacity of public extension services
Very few farmers in Timor-Leste are able and willing to pay for agriculture inputs and technical services.

The public agriculture extension service is the main source of technical assistance available to most farmers. However, the current system is constrained by low capacity and limited resources.

Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE)
Women’s participation in the agriculture sector is almost equal to men (48 per cent vs 52 per cent). Yet their economic (and social) contribution is seldom recognised.

Promoting the role of women farmers and highlighting their priorities is required to improve their access to inputs, technical assistance and markets.

Programme interventions

1. Brown onion and shallots

  1. Support for variety trials and seedling production in small-scale private sector nurseries.
  2. Introduction of new technologies e.g. drip irrigation and improved technology transfer to farmers through Farmer Field Schools facilitated by extension workers.
  3. Support to help farmers better link to buyers (supermarkets).

2. Mung bean

  1. Support for multiplication and distribution of improved seeds by Commercial Seed Producer Groups.
  2. Introduction of labour-saving technologies and improved technology transfer to farmers through Farmer Field Schools facilitated by extension workers.

3. Peanut

  1. Support for on-farm variety trials and distribution.
  2. Introduction of labour-saving technologies and improved technology transfer to farmers through Farmer Field Schools facilitated by extension workers.

4. Red rice

  1. Support for on-farm variety trials and distribution.
  2. Introduction of new technologies and improved technology transfer to farmers through Farmer Field Schools facilitated by extension workers.
  3. Support to private sector processors to improve quality of milling and marketing.

5. Pigs

  1. In partnership with ACIAR, research into improved diets and husbandry practices for small-scale pig farmers.

Cross-cutting

Agribusiness skills development
Support for the development and delivery of farm business training and counselling for aspiring commercial farmers.

Public extension service strengthening
Development of technical capacity within the public extension service to better support female and male farmers.

Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE)
The programme is implementing a gender-transformative approach to agriculture market systems development. This includes:

  • supporting women’s organisations to accelerate women’s leadership and decision-making in the sector
  • promoting women farmers’ access to, and control of, agriculture inputs and assets
  • improving technical services for women and facilitating markets linkages
  • promoting gender equitable household decision-making.

Notable results (systemic change, poverty impact)

The programme is in the early stages of implementation. At the market system level, key service providers are beginning to deliver improved services to farmers.

Farmers are beginning to adopt improved practices. Some farmers are expanding production areas using these practices. Neighbouring farmers are beginning to copy introduced practices.

[published Oct. 2018]

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