Special report 2021 FAO Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, 16 June 2021



  • The 2021 production of maize, rice and root crops (in cereal equivalent) is forecast at about 136 400 tonnes, nearly 8 percent above the past five-year average. An early start of the rainy season, followed by abundant and well-distributed rains throughout the season, resulted in higher-than-average planted area and yields, compensating for the losses due to floods and Fall armyworm (FAW).

  • The 2021 output of maize is estimated at 80 100 tonnes, about 9 percent more than the previous five-year average, while rice production is estimated at 39 950 tonnes, 13 percent higher than the past five-year average.

  • Approximately 2 660 hectares of rice were affected by floods, 12 percent of the planted areas. FAW severely affected about 2 880 hectares of maize, 9 percent of the cultivated area, with a significant reduction of yields especially for late-planted crops.

  • Concerns exist for the forthcoming 2021/22 main cropping season, to be planted from next December, due to damaged irrigation infrastructure caused by floods and the expansion of FAW damages. Without rehabilitation interventions, the Mission estimates that about 2 800 hectares of rice may not be fully or partially irrigated, while FAW could affect up to 20 percent of the aggregated maize output in a year with average or below-average rainfall.

  • Since its outbreak in 2019, the African swine fever (ASF) led to the death of more than 129 000 animals, about 28 percent of the total pig population. Over the past two years, the poultry sector has been affected by a new wave of Newcastle disease virus (NDV), particularly where vaccination campaigns were delayed.

  • Abundant rainfall and good pasture conditions benefited large and small head livestock. The population of buffaloes, Bali cows, horses, sheep and goats are generally healthy and have increased in number in 2021.

  • Prices of imported rice, the most consumed staple in the country, were at high levels in May 2021, averaging 15 percent higher than a year earlier, mostly reflecting strong local demand and supply disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prices of local rice, which accounts for a small proportion of the market supply, are twice higher than the prices of imported rice, but they decreased and, in May 2021, were 23 percent below their levels a year earlier. This is due to the diminished purchasing power, following income losses and increased unemployment due to the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions.

  • With an estimated utilization of 270 100 tonnes of maize, rice and root crops (in cereal equivalent), there is an expected import requirement for the 2021/22 marketing year (April/March) of about 113 700 tonnes, which will be fully covered by commercial and governmental purchases.

  • An emergency response to support farmers affected by floods is needed to restore income and production capacity. Irrigation systems damaged by the floods need to be repaired. Interventions need to include cash for work and mobilization of heavy equipment to remove sediments from irrigation canals, intake repairs and protection of irrigated land from future riverine erosion. The provision of vegetable seeds and farming equipment packages to the farmers can also help mitigate the impact on the affected communities.

  • The Mission recommends reinforcing the national bio-security capacity and support rapid interventions at farm level on FAW and ASF, through pig restocking in bio-secure fences and extended vaccination campaigns. The Mission identified an opportunity for long-term institutionalization of local procurements, initiated through the Government’s Cesta Basica programme, to supply the national school feeding programme (merenda escolar).