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

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


Plant Production

Timor-Leste has 14,916 sq km (1.49 M ha) of land but the general topography is mountainous. Land suitable for cultivated crops is very small consisting largely the alluvial flat lands or coastal plains. Production of staple food crops, rice and maize, dominate the agricultural systems in Timor-Leste. The estimated production areas are 38,000 ha for rice and 120,000 ha for maize. Rice and maize are equally important as staple food crops, however, land suitable for rice production are limited and maize is more widely grown in the uplands including hillsides. Irrigation water in many of the irrigated rice areas are available only when river water level from the source has increased to the level of the intake of the irrigation systems.

Yield per hectare of rice is about 1.5 Mt ha, still low compared to other rice-growing countries in Asia, largely because of poor application of improved technologies including use of quality seeds, fertilizer, and sometimes limited supply of irrigation water. Less than 20% of the
irrigated rice areas produce a second crop of rice within the year. Because of high cost, among other reasons, farmers do not normally use fertilizer in rice production.

Maize production occupies about 121,000 ha of land with
yields usually less than 1 Mt per hectare. Use of poor quality seeds,
poor soil condition, drought, and occasionally incidence of pests and
diseases are the usual causes of low yield of maize at farmers' fields
in Timor-Leste. About 81% of the households grow maize (TLHS, 2002).

Other food crops grown in Timor-Leste include cassava,
sweet potato, taro, bananas, squash, kidney beans, soybeans, mungbean, peanut and white potato. Cassava is grown by almost every households because together with sweet potato and taro, they also provide the source of calorific energy at times when supply of rice or maize has run out. Cassava is estimated
to be grown in about 55,000 ha of land while sweet potato in about 32,000 ha of land.

Most common commercial crops are Arabica coffee chimeri
(candlenut tree), vanilla and coconut. Coffee is grown largely at high elevations in the districts of Liquica, Ermera, Ainaro, Bobonaro and Aileu.


Cropping systems involving food crops in Timor-Leste vary depending on topography, elevation, and rainfall pattern. One crop or two crops of rice dominates the cropping system in the irrigated or rainfed areas of the northern lowlands. Where no irrigation water is available and topographic and hydrologic conditions do not permit growing of flooded rice, maize or peanut followed by cassava, sweet potato, or beans are commonly grown. Cropping systems in the northern slopes include single or two crops of flooded rice, maize followed by cassava, sweet potato or pumpkin, or mixed cropping of maize, cassava, kidney beans or peanut, and sweet potato. In the northern and southern highlands, households still grow rice in small areas supplied by communal systems, maize, cassava, sweet potato, beans, and kantas. In the southern slopes, farmers grow maize followed by cassava or mixed cropping of maize with cassava, sweet potato, and peanut but because of the relatively longer wet period, cropping systems are usually of longer duration.

Deolindo da Silva and Genaro San Valentin


Flag of Government of The Democratic Republic of  Timor-Leste

Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

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