Timor Leste may soon have its first batch of farmer-breeders. This is after 28 farmers took the first step to becoming breeders during a training and demonstration on rice breeding techniques conducted by SEARICE, August 26-27, 2015.
The training was part of a Farmer Field School (FFS) on plant genetic resources conservation, development and use (PGR-CDU) conducted by Resilient Agriculture and Economy through Biodiversity Action (RAEBIA) in Timor Leste.
FFS is an approach based on the concepts and principles of people-centered learning. It uses participatory methods and provides a learning environment that gives the farmers the opportunity to learn-by-doing various crop production techniques and ways to address farming problems. It aims to improve the skills of smallholder farmers in agricultural research and extension in order to help them attain a just food and agriculture system and to significantly improve the quality of their life.
The training is part of SEARICE’s efforts in the region, which entails building the confidence of farmers especially the poor and the marginalized to actively participate in research and extension in order to contribute in the agricultural development agenda of participating countries. It also aims to demonstrate that farmers are co-innovators and equal partners in research and extension.
There is an urgent need to develop the agriculture sector in Timor Leste. The country’s human and economic march to development hinges on how the government would treat the sector. While almost 80% of the country’s population depends on agriculture for their livelihood, this sector is also among the poorest. Agriculture needs immense support from the government for it to truly blossom and become the country’s springboard towards development. —Eboy T. Imperial