USAID Announces Award of USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project

New agriculture project aims to develop and expand the horticulture sector and assist the Government of Timor-Leste in its effort to join ASEAN

For Immediate Release

Monday, April 6, 2015

Dili, April 6, 2015Today, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded its new agriculture project in Timor-Leste.  Recognizing the tremendous potential of rural communities as high quality fruit and vegetable producers, USAID welcomes Cardno Emerging Markets and its partners HIAM Health, The Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture/Texas A&M AgriLife Research, and SSG Advisors as the implementers for USAID's Avansa Agrikultura (Advancing Agriculture) Project. 

Over the next five years, USAID's Avansa Agrikultura Project will focus on improving the country’s horticulture value chain—including farm inputs, agricultural extension, storage, transportation, trade, and policies—by providing technical assistance and facilitating market linkages within the vegetable and fruit sectors in over 250 communities throughout five districts (Aileu, Ainaro, Bobonaro, Dili, and Ermera). The project will also assist the Government of Timor-Leste in its effort to join ASEAN by providing technical assistance in meeting certain ASEAN “Single Window” requirements.  

Since approximately 70 percent or more of Timor-Leste’s population relies on agriculture for their livelihoods, USAID focuses on improving incomes for farm households in the country’s rural areas. Timor-Leste's fresh produce has proven to be lucrative for rural communities when the market system functions well. 

Mission Director John Seong stated, “Farmers who participated in USAID’s previous horticulture project increased their incomes by up to 400 percent, enabling them to improve their families’ nutrition and send their children to school.” On average, smallholder vegetable farmers who worked with USAID’s previous Developing Agriculture Communities Project (DAC), which ran from 2010-2015, doubled their incomes. 

While USAID’s previous project grew the local vegetable market significantly, there is still a great amount of unmet demand for high-quality produce throughout the year.  USAID’s Economic Growth Officer Director Dennis Wesner remarked, “There is significant demand for fresh fruits and vegetables, and we look forward to working with farmers to improve productivity to meet that demand.”

In recognition of the need to reduce malnutrition in Timor-Leste, USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project will also aim to increase diet diversity, especially among women and children.  To do this, the project will provide training and education to rural households to increase household consumption of nutritious foods.

Moreover, to increase resiliency towards climate change, the project will work with communities to improve their management of forests and water resources and adopt climate-smart farm management techniques.  Such activities include water capture technologies, conservation tillage, intercropping and crop rotations, agro-forestry and reforestation, and alternatives to slash and burn farming.