Press Release: Timor-Leste’s 2nd public-private-partnership tilapia hatchery opens in Lautem

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Timor-Leste’s 2nd public-private-partnership tilapia hatchery opens in Lautem


    DILI, 5 October 2021—The second public-private partnership (PPP) Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) hatchery has opened in Parlamento, Lautem, providing a significant boost to Timor-Leste’s emerging aquaculture sector and bolstering the country’s production of fish in the face of COVID-19.

    The hatchery was inaugurated jointly by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, H.E. Pedro dos Reis, and New Zealand Ambassador to Timor-Leste, H.E. Philip Hewitt, as part of the USD 3.3 million Partnership for Aquaculture Development in Timor-Leste Phase 2 project (PADTL2; 2020–2023). The project is funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, led by WorldFish and implemented in collaboration with the Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF).

    H.E. Pedro dos Reis, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries: “The Timor-Leste Government is committed to supporting the growth of aquaculture to get more fish and other aquatic foods onto the plates of rural households and to enhance livelihoods. The opening of this hatchery marks a significant milestone toward the continued scaling of fish farming to combat poverty and malnutrition.”

    Operation of the hatchery is critical to supporting progress toward the Timor-Leste National Aquaculture Development Strategy (2012–2030), which aims to boost fish supply from aquaculture to 12,000 tons by 2030 and reduce undernourishment by increasing per capita consumption of fish from 6.1 to 15.0 kg.

    The hatchery was co-funded by the PADTL2 project and Black Bird Unipessoal Lda, who is operating the hatchery with six staff and technical support from the government and WorldFish through the CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems. The hatchery, known as the Black Bird PPP GIFT hatchery, was planned and constructed in six months (November 2019–April 2020). It is modelled on the country’s first PPP tilapia hatchery in Leohitu, Bobonaro, which opened on 7 June 2019.

    H.E. Philip Hewitt, New Zealand Ambassador to Timor-Leste, New Zealand Aid Program: “The Black Bird GIFT hatchery in Parlamento is another excellent example of the public and private sectors successfully collaborating to provide farmers with the critical inputs needed for their fish farms. Despite the COVID-19 disruptions, the hatchery has sold and disseminated over 200,000 fingerlings between June 2020 and August 2021, and have another 150,000 fingerlings in the hatchery ready to distribute soon.”

    Each year, the hatchery is expected to produce over 1 million GIFT monosex (all male) fingerlings, which will be sold to a large number of fish farmers in Lautem and other nearby municipalities as well as non-government organizations supporting aquaculture development.

    The hatchery will acquire high-quality broodstock from the government GIFT hatchery in Gleno, Ermera and continue multiplying and disseminating GIFT fry/fingerlings to nurseries and farmers. The Gleno hatchery, which serves as source of quality GIFT Broodfish in Timor-Leste, was established by the New Zealand Aid Program

    funded PADTL1 project (2014–2019) in March 2016 using GIFT broodstock imported from the WorldFish headquarters in Penang, Malaysia.

    Under the PADTL2 project, an additional new PPP hatcheries will be established to improve access to and availability of quality GIFT seed. This work is especially critical in light of COVID-19, which has disrupted the country’s import-based food supply chain, exacerbating concerns about the country’s food and nutrition security.

    Gareth Johnstone, Director General, WorldFish: “The effects of COVID-19 on Timor-Leste’s food system underscore the need to continue developing aquatic food systems, including fish farming, as a source of affordable and nutritious locally-produced aquatic foods. Fast-tracking the scaling of aquaculture will help to increase domestic food production and bridge the country’s widening gap between fish supply and demand.”

    The PADTL2 project, launched in April 2020, works to support the diversification of livelihoods through nutrition-sensitive aquaculture. This is by scaling aquaculture to improve the availability, accessibility and consumption of diverse aquatic foods. The project builds on the successes of the PADTL1 project, which helped to lay the foundations for the aquaculture sector’s growth by developing seed, feed and grow-out technologies. In February 2021, USAID began a $1.2 million partnership with WorldFish to launch the USAID Accelerating Aquaculture Development in Timor-Leste activity that seeks to accelerate and expand the achievement of the ongoing PADTL2 project. This collaboration between New Zealand Aid and USAID is key to achieving sustainable development of aquaculture and improved nutrition in Timor-Leste.


    Press contact

    For more information or to request an interview: 

    Contact: Dr Jharendu Pant, PADTL 2 Project Leader/Senior Scientist, Sustainable Aquaculture, WorldFish
    In Timor-Leste: Mario Pereira, Country Representative, WorldFish Timor-Leste

    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 greatest 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, OneHealth, 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 resilience of aquatic food systems to shocks, which is critical to COVID-19 response and recovery.

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

    For more information, please visit

    About FISH

    Pursuing a research agenda through a network of multistakeholder partners, the CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems (FISH) enhances the contributions of fisheries and aquaculture to reducing poverty and improving food security and nutrition. FISH is led by WorldFish, together with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, Australia; the International Water Management Institute (IWMI)Natural Resources Institute (NRI) at the University of Greenwich, England and Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Netherlands. In regional contexts, the program partners closely with governments, NGOs, the private sector and research organizations to influence national, regional and global policy and development practice.

    About New Zealand Aid Program

    This is the New Zealand Government’s international aid and development program that 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.

    About 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.

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