projecteverest

Work Update

From Small Seeds to Big Ideas

The Ag Assessment team in Timor have been fast at work since day 1 of project. The team is focussing on empathising with all local farmers, collecting data from suppliers/providers in the agricultural sector as well as exploring avenues to acquire land for a demonstration plot. The following is a short summary of things the team has achieved and organised in project so far.

 

1)    Land for demonstration plot:

The team is hoping to have several leads for a plot of land organised so we can start testing out technologies and crops in July.  We are currently in the process of arranging an MOU with UNTL to allow us to implement several ERS prototypes (plastic bottle greenhouse, vertical farm)  on their Hera campus plot in the period where PE will not be in country, and then to set up a demonstration plot in July. This would be ideal as their students are also keen to work with PE and assist in maintenance/analysis of the plot. The aim is to ultimately build a strong foundation for the next team by conducting analysis of the land (e.g. soil testing, drone photography) and establishing a crop database.

 

2)    Workshop for UNTL students

Picking up from last month, we ran our first workshop for a group of 10 selected agriculture (agronomics, permaculture etc) students from UNTL. The objective of the student workshops is to empathise with them and gain a closer understanding of what their knowledge, experiences and issues are while also harnessing their large amount of local knowledge. However, the focus of this workshop was to introduce the team and some new agriculture tech and techniques to the group of students and identify which ones they valued. Some interesting findings from the workshop were:

 

  • The ag students knew of the technologies we were introducing at least in its most basic form of it.
  • The technology most novice to them was vertical farming and they loved it.
  • Climate change and lack of knowledge and initiative were identified as problems facing agriculture in Timor by everyone.
  • While they were said they had already learnt about techniques used in farmEd e.g companion cropping, continuous cropping and IPM it became evident in the activities that they may have a limited understanding or lack of appreciation. When speaking of IPM they really only mentioned pesticide and when asked to rank 5 technologies in regards to usefulness in the future, IPM and companion cropping were at the lower end. Our next workshop will focus on companion cropping and continuous cropping 
  • All of them were enthusiastic about our discussions and keen to keep in contact with PE. A second workshop was booked in.

 

3)    Farm and Market visits

Getting out of Dili and seeing Hera and other parts of beautiful Timor was the highlight of week one for the Ag girls. We conducted farm visits for half a day and managed to visit 6-7 farms. We were overwhelmed by the warmth and friendliness we received in Hera. Additionally, in an effort to understand relationships and the supply chain better, we have started visiting buyers of agricultural produce such as restaurants and markets. We look to collect information like where they buy produce, how much the buy it for or what they look for when purchasing produce from them. The goal for this month is to visit 50 supply chain participants (en route to 20+ at this stage) so we are definitely organising a few days of restaurant and market visits. This will assist in creating a database for the next team.

 

 

It’s been 5 days of hustling but the ag girls are thriving!

 

Tagged users
edited on Jan 11, 2018 by Behshid Golshani

Rebecca Pink Jan 11, 2018

Would love your thoughts!

Reply

Cec Cameron Jan 11, 2018

Hey Behshid,

Love the work by you aggies. For personal interest, I am intrigued about what technologies, except for IPM, companion cropping and continuous cropping these students had heard of before? In cropping systems, are weeds an issue and therefore integrated weed management of interest? In terms of climate change, what is Timor Leste experiencing? How are farmers responding to this? As well, what is the background of most of these students and what do they aim to do when they graduate? Work on farm, in agribusiness, policy etc.

Cheers,
Cec

Reply

Behshid Golshani Jan 16, 2018

Hey Cec

The workshop was definitely interesting to say the least. They had heard of everything but vertical farming but they seem to have a very basic understanding of what they are. For example they associated pest management with pesticides however our goal with IPM is to use the plants natural defences to minimise use of chemicals. What we loved the most was how eager everyone was to contribute to the discussion.

With climate change, there is a belief that construction stops rain so then with progress in infrastructure agriculture would be left behind. Some farmers we have visited so far actually had water pumps for the current dry season but they don't really have the means of protecting plants from excessive rainfall which is what Climate change has caused an extensive increase in during the wet season along with a dryer dry season and heightened sea levels creating increased likelihood of flooding in areas such as Timor Leste as a response to this we have found so far that the farmers just replant their crops which for both them and their communities become an issue as theres a period of lower than usual income and food.

We actually noticed a few of the students came from farming backgrounds and had families who work on farms but there were others of different background too.

Thank you for your comment hope this answers some of your questions.

Reply

Behshid Golshani Jan 16, 2018

Hey Cec

The workshop was definitely interesting to say the least. They had heard of everything but vertical farming but they seem to have a very basic understanding of what they are. For example they associated pest management with pesticides however our goal with IPM is to use the plants natural defences to minimise use of chemicals. What we loved the most was how eager everyone was to contribute to the discussion.

With climate change, there is a belief that construction stops rain so then with progress in infrastructure agriculture would be left behind. Some farmers we have visited so far actually had water pumps for the current dry season but they don't really have the means of protecting plants from excessive rainfall which is what Climate change has caused an extensive increase in during the wet season along with a dryer dry season and heightened sea levels creating increased likelihood of flooding in areas such as Timor Leste as a response to this we have found so far that the farmers just replant their crops which for both them and their communities become an issue as theres a period of lower than usual income and food.

We actually noticed a few of the students came from farming backgrounds and had families who work on farms but there were others of different background too.

Thank you for your comment hope this answers some of your questions.

Reply

View all replies (2)

Seth Coetzee Jan 11, 2018

Hey Behshid! It sounds like you ag girls are hustling hard, love it! In regards to the workshop and the students perceptions of ag technology, out of curiosity what were the three they ranked above IPM and Companion Cropping? If the students already have a basic understanding of the technologies and yet still don’t have an appreciation for them, it may be valuable to conduct a focus group to find out exactly what they are learning, why they haven’t put the knowledge into practise, what barriers are stopping them from doing so, what has caused the lack of initiative, and what would inspire them to take the initiative. In regards to the supply chain visits, I would recommend finding out things like what produce restaurants/hotels want but don’t currently have access to, and whether there is a preference for imports/local produce and why. I would also suggest that your team has a look at the data Fiji and Cambodia are currently collecting, and to make sure that whatever database and data collection system your team sets up it is thorough so that everything you collect isn’t lost in the future. Potentially reconsider setting a number on how many supply chain members you visit, and instead set a goal to thoroughly understand the market, remember quality of quantity. More than happy to talk to you guys about supply chain stuff, so if you’re interested - get your TL to organise a call with me. Congrats on the great work!

Reply

Behshid Golshani Jan 16, 2018

Hey Seth!

They ranked the technologies in the following order:
1. Greenhouses
2. Drip Irrigation
3. Vertical Farming
4. Pest Management
5. Organic Farming

Workshop 1 was kind of used for an introduction and familiarising ourselves with the students and their opinions so now we have a better plan for what workshop 2 will be. We are currently planning workshop 2 and hoping to get access to their syllabus beforehand, hopefully that will give us some insight into what they are learning. It would absolutely be beneficial to see why there is lack of initiative, that can be another area to explore further in our workshops.

Regarding the supply chain, we have been active in going out and empathising with markets, restaurants and hotels and hoping to do more of since the data collected has been very good to understand the relationship between buyers and sellers even better.

We would love to have a chat with you about the supply chain stuff! Looking forward to having a chat with you and thank you for the recommendations.

Reply

Jessica Stephanie Arvela Jan 13, 2018

Very keen to see point one up and prepped for July to take off. Workshop two should really confirm which of the interns will stay on board - that may even make the plot possible for this month... Depending on how solidly you get the team set up and set up comms lines and reporting for the break between now and winter. Worth seeing what's possible with UNTLs backing.

Reply

Amber Johnston 11 months ago

Status label added: Work Update

Reply

Share