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 under-nourishment 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 under-nourishment by increasing per capita consumption of fish from 6 to 15kg by 2020.
The $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.”