Home About Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries Site Map Contact us
Site Channels
  Climate and Hydrology
  Plant Production
  Plant Protection
  Soils and Fertility
  Environment Protection
  Animal and fishers
  Studies & Development   issues
  Learn Tetum

Maize and rice are the country's main staple foods.....MORE

EAST TIMOR has a total forest area of 1.4 m ha.....MORE


Agriculture is the main activity in Timor-Leste, providing subsistence to an estimated 80% of the population. It also generates an average of 90% of the exports, mainly due to coffee. Most farmers practice subsistence farming, planting and harvesting what they need for a simple life-style, collecting wild foods and traditional medicines, and the animals are very much left free to grow and reproduce. There are almost no large scale farms except for missions.


Timor has given unique contributions to world´s agriculture. It is recognized as the home of "Timor Hybrid", a coffee variety which combines resistance to the rust disease Hemileia vastatrix, and produces a coffee with quality almost as good as the Arabica. Some authors (For example Rui Cinnati) also recognize Timor as the origin of Sandal wood.

The topography consists of a narrow plain around the coast and a central mountain range dominating the country. The north coast is the driest area with some 500 mm of rain while the highlands can have over 2000mm.


The steep slopes that dominate most of the country with heavy rainfall translate into heavy erosion once the tree cover is removed. Deforestation (due to sandal wood cutting, fires, land clearing, or goats eating the young plants) initiates a process of land destruction that is very difficult to reverse or even stop.

In the first ¾ of the last century, the Portuguese Agronomic (or Agriculture) Mission tried to stimulate food production (rice) in the coastal plains, leaving the mountains with Coffee. The coffee production system, provides a sustainable ecosystem which through a three layer system (shade tree which is usually a legume, coffee plants, and grasses), that protects the soil, providing income and employment.

Today there is need for food security to be attained in the whole country. The Agriculture Rehabilitation Programme is trying to restore the irrigation schemes for rice and rural roads, and Cooperativa Café Timor and others have been sponsoring the rebirth of the coffee sector.

The authors feel that with the growing economic needs of the people, it is necessary to, sooner or later, move beyond commodity crops. It is felt that the production of crops with higher margins (cashew nuts, mangos, spices, vanilla, restoration of sandalwood, pineapples, passion fruit, guavas, cut flowers) associated with some form of processing (roasting of nuts, mango pulp, guava jam, passion fruit concentrate) are the next stage in the development of the agriculture sector.

Lourenco Fontes

Flag of Government of The Democratic Republic of  Timor-Leste

Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

English Version Tetum Version Portugues Version HOME PAGE