Press release

Partnerships for aquaculture development in Timor-Leste

Two agreements that will promote aquaculture as a means to improve nutrition and reduce poverty were signed in Timor-Leste today as part of a celebration of World Food Day.

The partnership agreement brings together the Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and acknowledges the key role that aquaculture plays in increasing income and access to a nutritious food source.

With the second highest rate of childhood stunting in the world, rates of undernourishment in Timor-Leste are a cause for considerable concern, notes the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Together the partners will support the implementation of Timor-Leste’s National Aquaculture Development Strategy (2012–2030), which aims to reduce undernourishment by increasing per capita consumption of fish from 6 to 15 kg by 2020.

The USD 4 million Partnership for Aquaculture Development project will work to develop the Timor-Leste fish farming industry, carry out training, improve planning, develop seed and feed supply systems and help to connect fish growers to markets. The project will be led by the National Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture (NDFA) with assistance from New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Ltd (NIWA), WorldFish, Tisbe and Timor’s Institute for Business Development (IADE).

In addition, a letter of agreement signed between WorldFish and the Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries formally establishes WorldFish operations in Timor-Leste and allows progress in the development of a robust fisheries and aquaculture sector.

Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Excellency Mariano Assanami Sabino said: “Signing of these agreements today marks the beginning of an important partnership that I believe will see aquaculture contribute significantly to food security and to meeting the nutritional needs of the people of Timor-Leste”.

Secretary of State for Fisheries, Excellency Rafael Pereira Goncalves said: “The aquaculture sector plays a very important role in food security for the country. Through this support, NDFA can implement its National Aquaculture Development Strategy, providing improved access to nutritious food for children and pregnant women, creating job opportunities and providing sustainable income for the long term”.

Jonathan Schwass, Ambassador of New Zealand, said: “This project is about feeding people and also building the economy through the growth of the private sector. In the next four years we want to see 200 small aquaculture businesses established and 600 jobs created. Most will be in the districts. Each one of these businesses and jobs will contribute to the sustainable development of Timor-Leste”.

Stephen Hall, Director General, WorldFish said: “The development of a sustainable aquaculture sector is a proven tool in tackling hunger and improving livelihoods. The implementation of this plan will increase productivity and availability of fish at a price that is affordable for the poor”.


The National Directorate of Fisheries and Aquaculture (NDFA) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) is the government department responsible for planning and management of Timor-Leste’s fisheries and aquaculture. NDFA is playing a lead role in this project, dedicating both staff and resources to maximize the benefits that can be achieved through aquaculture development in Timor-Leste

About the New Zealand Aid Programme

The New Zealand Aid Programme is the New Zealand Government's international aid and development programme managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Its mission is to support sustainable development in developing countries in order to reduce poverty and contribute to a more secure, equitable and prosperous world. The aid programme focuses on stimulating sustainable economic development and has a geographic focus on the Pacific region.

About NIWA

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) is a New Zealand Crown Research Institute. Its mission is to conduct leading environmental science. NIWA runs the National Centre for Aquaculture, which has New Zealand’s largest team of aquaculture specialists applying their extensive knowledge and practical experience of scientific issues to marine farming.

About WorldFish

WorldFish is an international, nonprofit research organization that harnesses the potential of fisheries and aquaculture to reduce hunger and poverty. Globally, more than one billion poor people obtain most of their animal protein from fish and 800 million depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods. WorldFish is a member of CGIAR, a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future.


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.

About Tisbe

Tisbe Ltd is a New Zealand based independent consultancy service. Tisbe provides advice and support for aquaculture development. It specializes in farming system development and design, identifying and supporting new development opportunities, aquaculture planning and strategies, and sustainable production practices.

About IADE

IADE’s (Instituto de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento Empresarial) mission is to promote, train and support entrepreneurs in Timor-Leste by providing a range of services that include business training, business counselling and business matchmaking. The IADE team will support the development of business planning tools and help to connect new aquaculture enterprises with domestic and export markets.

For more information contact:

In Timor-Leste: Domingos Goncalves, NDFA/MAF Mobile: +670 773 12323,  Email:

International: Toby Johnson, Senior Media Relations Manager, Mobile Tel: +60 175 124 606, Email:

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