Agriculture Assessment

Paper publication date: 
Friday, March 27, 2020

Oxfam in Timor-Leste developed the ‘Agriculture Assessment’ report to highlight and identify the needs of farmers to promote inclusive development in Timor-Leste’s agricultural sector. It also explores the perception of farming as a ‘poor person’s profession’ and identifies this perception as a barrier to promote more inclusive participation in the agriculture sector.

The Agriculture Assessment report highlights its findings from surveys and interviews conducted between August to October 2019 in three municipalities: Viqeuque, Ermera and Oecusse.

These municipalities were chosen to reflect the diverse farming experiences and needs in Timor-Leste. The fieldwork was conducted with over 80 individuals from government, civil society, community leaders and farming groups.

With 80% of Timor-Leste relying on agriculture sector for their livelihoods, developing the agriculture sector is key to reducing poverty in Timor-Leste and improving food security and nutrition standards – a critically important issue where 24.9% of the country is undernourished and 48.6% of children under five years old are stunted.

While economic growth has occurred, it has mostly focused on the growing middle-class in Dili. Despite this growth, the gap between the rural and urban communities have widened in the past ten years and sectors such as agriculture have not grown.


Key findings

Untapped agricultural potential

While farmers in Viqueque, Ermera and Oecusse face different challenges and identify different needs to grow the agriculture sector in their municipality, there is a common trend: untapped agricultural potential.

Farmers identified that there is a lot of untapped agricultural potential in Timor-Leste, largely due to abandoned land use and a lack of crop diversity.


In the report, these are the top three issues the municipality identified:


  1. Difficult to sell produce
  2. Insufficient materials/ inputs (seeds, greenhouses, fish/ animal feed and shelter)
  3. No water for irrigation


    1. Difficult to sell produce, with sometimes over-production for limited market
    2. Don’t know how to manage crop diversity or store seeds
    3. Low understanding in making organic fertiliser


    1. Difficult to sell product, with some produce wasted
    2. Low ability to control production/ control pests attacking produce
    3. Difficult to access water

This report is part of Oxfam in Timor-Leste’s ‘Strengthening Voices for Pathways in Good Governance’ program (also known as Hadalan Lian Ba Governasaun Diak in Tetun). To learn more about the need for economic diversification and inclusive growth in Timor-Leste, click here.


Featured image: Oecusse, Timor-Leste: Sabina Foni shows her corn harvest that was recently picked from her permanent garden supported by Oxfam's Strengthening Community Livelihoods (Haforsa) Program. Haforsa builds on reflecting lessons learned from Oxfam’s previous Community-Led Rural Development Program and Climate Change Adaptation programs. The program works with 11 civil society partners, primarily in Oecusse and Covalima. (Keith Parsons/OxfamAU).