Project Everest


[Problem] Farmers - DArT Timor - July 2019

Courtney Gribble
Courtney Gribble | 4 months ago | in Impact Partner - DArT

Lean Canvas: Problem

Aim: The purpose of this post is to consolidate previously validated farmer problem data relevant to DArT.

Introduction: The DArT project is looking to validate the product market fit of Diversity Array Technology’s technology through mapping the agricultural supply chain. The following DArT-relevant problem validations have been previously made for Farmers in Timor by FarmEd teams. Further problem validations will be necessary. 


Most East Timorese farmers have minimal or no access to professional agricultural knowledge and advice. This significantly hinders their capacity to improve and develop their farms, as they rely only on generational learning or trial and error to deal with agricultural issues.

(Problem A) Seasonal over-dependence
Generational learning and lack of access to agricultural advice leads to over-dependence on the same crops, and management of these crops with outdated and inefficient methods. Most Timorese farmers grow the same crops within seasons and across years. Resulting in competition, food insecurity and lack of food in the ‘hungry season’ (November to February). Furthermore, the Timorese wet season creates a significant problem to farmers, whose techniques can’t combat the torrential rain and flooding that wipes out their crops.

(Problem B) Nutritional value and quality of crops
The lack of agricultural education can result in inefficient/ineffective farming methods that produce crops with low nutritional value and low quality. Consequently, ineffective farming methods can exacerbate matters such as malnutrition throughout communities. Additionally, low produce quality results in a decreased income and prevents export of produce internationally.

  • Growth stunting in children under 5 is at 50%  [ACIAR, 2018]
  • 71% farmers currently use pesticides, 2.6% use herbicides and 26% do not use any pest treatment. However, 60% of these farmers found the pesticide to be ineffective [July 2019, n=86]. This could be due to incorrect use of pesticides or resistance. 
  • 17% farmers throw away their crop waste [December 2017, n=70].
  • ~47% farmers have no storage for their crops, which has significant implications for nutrition as farmers can’t keep their crops for the ‘hungry season’ [December 2017, n=70]

(Problem C) Connection between farmers and distributors
Independent farming across Timor means that communication between farmers and distributors is inconsistent and limited. Limited input supply leads to high prices, unreliable inventory and limited access outside of Dili. 

  • Previous FarmEd teams have stated this as a key problem facing East Timorese farmers, however no data points have been found to back this up. Therefore, data should be collected to validate this. 

Current alternative solutions

1. The Ministry of Agriculture has supplied some farmers with seeds, pesticides and fertiliser. 8.3% farmers seek advice from the Ministry of Agriculture [July 2018, n=24].

2. USAID’s AVANSA project in Timor was established in 2015 to accelerate sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the horticulture sector (USAID, 2019). Through AVANSA, farmers have been supplied with general farming knowledge such as how to compost and use a tractor. However some farmers have felt minimal impact from AVANSA due to the advice being provided to only the leaders of communities and often does not reach everyone (FarmEd 2018). 4.2% farmers seek advice from AVANSA [July 2018, n=24].

3. Timorese farmers often rely on advice from family or friends, with 12.5% asking for advice from other farmers [July 2018, n=24]. 76% farmers learnt to farm from their family [December 2017, n= 70]. This can mean that cropping methods are outdated or inadequate for the environment, exacerbating low crop quality and yields.

For relevant FarmEd post see: Problem FarmEd Timor-Leste.

edited on 23rd October 2019, 05:10 by Courtney Gribble

Courtney Gribble 4 months ago

Status label added: Problem

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