Press Release: 3rd public-private-partnership fish hatchery opens in Timor-Leste

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New tilapia production will enhance food security, nutrition, and economic prosperity

DILI, 17 MARCH 2023—The Hera public-private-partnership (PPP) model hatchery for genetically improved farmed tilapia (GIFT) has opened today, marking another major stride towards scaling up sustainable aquaculture production to boost household nutrition and incomes in Timor-Leste.

The hatchery was inaugurated by the Timor-Leste Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak, New Zealand Ambassador to Timor-Leste Philip Hewitt, and U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Tom Daley, as part of the Partnership for Aquaculture Development in Timor-Leste Phase 2 project (PADTL2).

Taur Matan Ruak, Prime Minister: “The Timor-Leste government has a goal to increase aquaculture production to 12,000 tons per year by 2030, leading to a rise in annual fish consumption to 15 kg per person. The opening of the Hera hatchery, the third of its kind, will help to realize this goal and support a sustainable and robust food system.”

The PADTL2 project is funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT; USD 3.2 million) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID; USD 1.2 million in complementary funds). It is implemented by WorldFish in collaboration with the Timor-Leste Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture (MAF).

Philip Hewitt, New Zealand Ambassador to Timor-Leste: “Partnering with the private sector to provide fish farmers with high-quality seed, feed and technologies will enable greater quantities of nutritious fish to reach rural communities. The New Zealand International Development Corporation Programme remains committed to supporting the sustainable development of aquaculture in Timor-Leste to enhance household diets and livelihoods.”

Tom Daley, U.S. Chargé d'Affaires: “Strengthening fish farming will grow the incomes of local producers and strengthen food security and nutrition in Timor-Leste. The United States is committed to partnering with Timor-Leste and New Zealand to accelerate local aquaculture development to improve the health and expand the prosperity of the Timorese people.”

The Hera hatchery was co-funded by the PADTL2 project and owner Ayub (Joseph) Karimi, who will operate the hatchery with four staff and technical support from the government and WorldFish. The PPP model has been used by the PADTL2 project for the two other GIFT hatcheries: in Leohitu, Bobonaro (opened in June 2019) and Parlamento, Lautem (opened in October 2021).

Dr Jharendu Pant, PADTL2 Project Leader, Senior Aquaculture Scientist, WorldFish: “Providing access to high-quality fish seed and ensuring its availability is a must to scale aquaculture sustainably. The PPP hatcheries promoted by WorldFish are unique models that are cost-effective, easy to replicate, and designed to suit the Timorese context.”

The Hera PPP hatchery has the potential to produce over 5 million high-quality GIFT monosex (all-male) fingerlings annually. Located in Dili municipality, the hatchery will help to develop peri-urban aquaculture and support the supply of fresh fish to Dili's markets, restaurants, and local households. Together, the three PPP hatcheries will produce over 10 million fingerlings annually, helping to bolster the country's domestic food production and meet the demand for locally-produced aquatic foods.

WorldFish will continue to support the further scaling of PPP model hatcheries across suitable agro-ecologies in Timor-Leste to contribute to realizing the country's strategic goal of increasing domestic fish production.

The PADTL2 project, building on the solid foundation laid during the PADTL Phase 1, works to scale up the production of GIFT in Timor-Leste. GIFT is an improved strain of tilapia that grows faster, which is achieved through selective breeding, a process used for millennia on crops and livestock. By improving farmer access to seed, feed, and technologies, this will increase the availability and accessibility of fish and encourage greater fish consumption among rural households.



About the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is the government department responsible for the development of the rural sector in Timor-Leste. Approximately 75 percent of the population live in rural areas; the majority of which derive their livelihoods from agriculture. Despite the importance of the sector, and significant investments made by successive governments, the sector’s performance has been mixed and productivity levels remain low. The ministry therefore works to develop a sustainable, competitive and prosperous agricultural sector that can reduce poverty, ensure food and nutrition security, and promote employment and economic growth in the agricultural sector.

About the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The PADTL2 project is funded by MFAT as part of the New Zealand Aid Program, which seeks to promote prosperity and stability in the Pacific and beyond. The aid program provides financial and technical assistance to reduce poverty and help achieve sustainable development in developing countries. With the aim of creating a more prosperous, secure and equitable world, New Zealand Aid works with a wide range of partners and provides humanitarian assistance to people affected by natural disasters and conflicts.


USAID is the world's premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID works to help lift lives, build communities, and advance democracy. The United States Government, through USAID, works in partnership with the government of Timor-Leste to support broad-based and effective development. Since 2001, USAID has provided more than $250 million in development assistance to Timor-Leste. USAID supports Timor-Leste in its efforts to build a more prosperous, self-reliant, healthy, and democratic country through programs that foster inclusive and sustainable economic growth, especially in the agriculture and tourism sectors; improve the health of the Timorese people, particularly women and children; and strengthen the foundations of good governance – as highlighted in Timor-Leste’s Strategic Development Plan 2013-2030.

About WorldFish 

WorldFish is an international, nonprofit research and innovation institution that creates, advances, and translates aquatic food systems science into scalable solutions. We vision an inclusive world of healthy, well-nourished people and a sustainable blue planet, now and in the future. Our mission is to end hunger and advance progress on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals through science and innovation to transform food, land, and water systems with aquatic foods for healthier people and the planet.

For over 45 years, WorldFish's data, evidence, and insights have shaped practices, policies, and investments to end hunger and advance sustainable development in low- and middle-income countries.  We have a global presence across 20 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific, with 460 staff of 30 nationalities deployed where the most significant sustainable development challenges can be addressed through holistic aquatic food systems solutions. Embedded in local, national, and international partnerships, our work sets agendas, builds capacities, and supports decision-making for climate action, food and nutrition security, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, blue economy, One Health, and AgriTech, integrating gender, youth, and social inclusion. 

A core element of the 2030 WorldFish Research and Innovation Strategy: Aquatic Foods for Healthy People and Planet is focused on building the resilience of aquatic food systems to shocks, which is critical to COVID-19 response and recovery. 

WorldFish is part of CGIAR, the world's largest agricultural research and innovation network.

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CGIAR is the world’s largest global agricultural innovation network. We provide evidence to policy makers, innovation to partners, and new tools to harness the economic, environmental and nutritional power of agriculture. 

CGIAR has a wealth of experience and knowledge spanning 50 years that builds on a track-record of innovation and world-class research. Thanks to our funders, CGIAR research has transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of people through tangible research outcomes. 

The 15 CGIAR Research Centers are independent, non-profit research organizations, conducting innovative research. Home to more than 8,000 scientists, researchers, technicians, and staff, CGIAR research works to create a better future for the world’s poor. Each Center has its own charter, board of trustees, director general, and staff. CGIAR Research Centers are responsible for hands-on research programs and operations guided by policies and research directions set by the System Management Board. 

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For more information or to request an interview: 

Science/project contact

Dr. Jharendu Pant

PADTL 2 Project Leader/Senior Scientist, Sustainable Aquaculture




New Zealand Embassy



Communications Team