The United States Launches USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

DILI - Honorable Minister Estanislau Alexio da Silva, U.S. Ambassador to Timor-Leste Karen Stanton, and USAID Assistant Administrator Jonathan Stivers formally launched today USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project.  This new US$19.2 million agriculture project, which is made possible by the generous support of the American people, will develop links between farmers and markets to stimulate economic growth in rural areas and address rural poverty, natural resource degradation, food insecurity, and malnutrition.

By the end of the five-year project, USAID anticipates that over 33,000 people in 250 communities throughout five municipalities (Aileu, Ainaro, Bobonaro, Dili, and Ermera) will be transitioning from subsistence to commercial farming, earning higher incomes, showing improved nutrition practices, and managing their economic assets more effectively.

Farmers who participated in USAID’s Developing Agricultural Communities Project (DAC) increased their incomes by up to 400 percent, enabling them to improve their families’ nutrition and send their children to school.  Over the next five years, USAID's Avansa Agrikultura Project will build off of this previous work and improve the country’s horticulture from farms to markets—by providing technical assistance and facilitating market linkages within the vegetable and fruit sectors in over 250 communities. The project will also increase diet diversity, especially among women and children, by providing education to rural households regarding nutritious foods, improve sanitation and hygiene, and support basic business skills.  To help adapt to climate change, the project will work with communities to better manage forests and water resources and adopt climate-smart farming techniques.  Project activities will include water management, conservation tillage, intercropping and crop rotations, agro-forestry and reforestation, and alternatives to slash-and-burn farming.

During the launch event, Honorable Minister Estanislau da Silva commented: “One of the program priorities for the Minister of Agriculture in 2016 is horticulture, where we have identified the potential areas such as Ainaro, Aileu, Ermera, Bobonaro, and Manufahi called the ‘Horticulture Belt’.”  Minister Estanislau also noted that Avansa Agrikultura’s focus on engaging youth in agriculture aligned with another priority of the Government. 

Ambassador Karen Stanton stated: “To feed its growing population, Timor-Leste needs to significantly increase food production, while at the same time address the effects of climate changes causing longer droughts and less predictable rainfall.  That is why the United States, through USAID, places such high importance on accelerating agricultural production to promote inclusive economic growth, reduce the country’s serious burdens of food insecurity and malnutrition, and mitigate the impact of global climate change.”

USAID Assistant Administrator Jon Stivers commented, “One of USAID’s main objectives in Timor-Leste is to partner with the government and people to accelerate inclusive economic growth in the agricultural sector, improve Timorese citizens’ ability to engage in the private sector, and increase the productivity of selected agriculture value chains.”  He continued: “Since about 80 percent of Timor-Leste’s population relies on agriculture for their livelihoods, USAID focuses on accelerating inclusive economic growth for farm households in the country’s rural areas.  Our partnerships support activities aimed at boosting output above subsistence levels and improving incomes by increasing farm productivity and establishing links to markets.”

Chief of Party Nic Richards said, “USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project marks a major step in the transition from development assistance to market-led growth and private sector engagement and builds on USAID’s valuable investments in the agriculture sector to secure enduring dividends for Timor-Leste’s inclusive economic future.”