Press release

Aid groups urge aquaculture to help feed Timor-Leste

WorldFish, as a part of the European Commission Food Security Coordination Group, is coordinating attempts to improve Timor-Leste's food and nutritional security through aquaculture.

The European Commission Food Security Coordination Group (EFSG) recently organized a one-day ‘Aquaculture for Food Security and Nutrition’ workshop to examine the current and potential future contribution of aquaculture to food security in Timor-Leste.

The workshop was followed by a 3-day aquaculture training session for local NGO and government staff who work closely with Timorese farmers on the role of fish in human nutrition. They acquired technical skills, including pond preparation and management, fish harvesting and business management for fish farms to share with farmers.

Chronic malnutrition, food shortages and extreme poverty are part of life for many of the 1.07 million people of Timor-Leste, one of the poorest nations in Asia. Nearly half of children across the country are deprived of a nutritionally balanced diet, around one-third of all women and 45% of all children are considered underweight.

The Secretary of State of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Excellency Raffael Pereira Goncalves stressed the extreme problem of malnutrition. “Some families, especially in our rural communities, are not able to access food,” he said. “The strategy will guide us through the process of developing aquaculture, and ensuring its implementation is a key priority of the government."

Fish provides a range of vitamins and fats essential to human health and nutrition, but participants pointed to nutritional and health education, economic and aquaculture infrastructure challenges to the improvement of food security in Timor-Leste.

The conference and training were organized by the European Commission Food Security Coordination Group, which is made up of international organizations such as Mercy Corps, CARE, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Hivos, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Government of Timor-Leste, and WorldFish.

“In Timor-Leste it’s not only about the capacity of the people to purchase food, but there is also limited understanding of malnutrition by the people of Timor-Leste. We need to increase the capacity of the people to understand malnutrition, its causes and impacts.” Mr. Joa Bosco from the National Directorate for Nutrition of the Ministry of Health.

“Nevertheless, as in the other agricultural sectors, poorly developed infrastructure and services as well as lack of human resources are major challenges to aquaculture development in the country. Despite these challenges, there is great potential for developing aquaculture in Timor-Leste. The country has a favorable resource base with high aquaculture development potential. Its infrastructures are rapidly developing, it has already prepared a National Aquaculture Development Strategy and is committed to its implementation." WorldFish scientist Dr. Jharendu Pant.

“Achieving the goal of food and nutrition security will require the cooperation and partnership of multiple national departments, national and international NGOs." Excellency Raffael Pereira Goncalves

About WorldFish

WorldFish, a member of the CGIAR Consortium, is an international, nonprofit research organization committed to reducing poverty and hunger through fisheries and aquaculture.

About CGIAR

CGIAR is a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by the 15 research centers who are members of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations.

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Photography: flickr.com/photos/theworldfishcenter/

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