Remarks by USAID Assistant Administrator for Asia Jonathan Stivers at USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project Launch in Timor-Leste

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Improving the horticulture value chain, reducing malnutrition, strenthening climate change resiliency


I am thrilled to stand here with you today to launch USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project.

While this is my first visit to Timor-Leste, the country holds a special place in my heart; I was involved in supporting the referendum in 2002 as a staff member in the U.S. Congress, so the opportunity to personally launch a project that has such great potential to stimulate economic growth and enhance food security is extremely exciting!

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.

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.

Farmers who participated in the previous horticulture project, USAID’s Developing Agricultural Communities Project, increased their incomes by up to 400 percent, enabling them to improve their families’ nutrition and send their children to school.  This project also educated rural households about nutritious foods to increase dietary diversity, especially among women and children.

Building off of this work, USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project will improve the country’s horticulture value chain by providing technical assistance and facilitating market linkages within the vegetable and fruit sectors in over 250 communities throughout five municipalities (Aileu, Ainaro, Bobonaro, Dili, and Ermera).

USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project will support the value chains of key horticulture crops, including farm inputs; post-harvest handling, storage, and transportation; farming systems; market linkages and agricultural extension.

Additionally, USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project will reduce malnutrition by increasing 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, improve sanitation and hygiene, and support basic business skills to use assets productively. 

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.  Project activities will include water capture technologies, conservation tillage, intercropping and crop rotations, agro-forestry and reforestation, and alternatives to slash-and-burn farming.

By the end of the project, we anticipate that over 33,000 people in 250 communities will be transitioning from subsistence to commercial farming, earning higher incomes, realizing improved nutrition, and managing their economic assets more effectively.

Timor–Leste is a fast growing economy with rapid changes in investment, infrastructure, services, and social conditions.  It is heavily reliant on government functions and support.  The population is young—70 percent of citizens are under the age of 30 years old.

Nutrition indicators such as stunting, dietary intake, and diversity for children 5 to 24 months old remain at critical levels with drastic support needed.  More than half of children less than five years old suffer from stunting and lack of dietary diversity.  Food production capacity is less than half of what the citizens consume, albeit at lower levels of consumption in many cases.

To help you to tackle these challenges, USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project will be here for the next five years working alongside the Timorese people to address these issues and improving the lives of over 33,000 people in more than 250 communities.

We look forward to our continuing investment in the prosperity of this great country.  Obrigada barak.

Issuing Country