In Timor-Leste, around 75 percent of the country’s 1.2 million people live in rural areas where livelihoods depend on the farming of crops and livestock, largely of a subsistence or semi-subsistence nature.
More than half of the country’s children under five are stunted and 41 percent of the population live below the national poverty line. The Government of Timor-Leste has made combatting poverty and malnutrition a top priority since the country gained independence in 2002. The government has identified the development of a sustainable fisheries and aquaculture sector as a means of improving food and nutrition security and diversifying livelihoods.
Currently, only a small proportion of the people of Timor-Leste are engaged in fisheries and aquaculture. The 2015 census reports that 5 percent of household are involved in small-scale fisheries, and 1.75 percent are involved in aquaculture in 2016.
Freshwater aquaculture produced only 45.6 metric tons in 2008. Aquaculture development initiatives by WorldFish and partners in recent years helped increase this figure to more than 3500 metric tons in 2016. In 2014, around 15 metric tons of seaweed were produced for export, with a much greater volume produced for the local market.
Today, fish accounts for 31 percent of the animal-source protein intake in the Timorese diet. Average fish consumption is estimated to be 6.1 kg/person/year (17 kg in coastal areas and 4 kg in inland communities), which is much less than current global average of 19.7 kg. By 2030, it is hoped that efforts to boost fish supply and production by the government and partners will raise consumption to 15 kg per capita, with aquaculture production supplying 40 percent of locally consumed fish.
We are working to boost aquaculture and small-scale fisheries production and promote community-based resource management of coastal fisheries to strengthen livelihoods and combat poverty and malnutrition in Timor-Leste. Consisting of a local and international team of researchers and scientists, WorldFish Timor-Leste is known for its science quality and seven-year track record of working closely with the government, NGOs and communities.