Irrigation and Rice Cultivation Project in Manatuto

Timor-Leste became independent from Indonesia in May 2002. About 80% of its labour population was engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishery industries. While the livelihood of the population largely depended on agriculture, especially paddy production, agricultural productivity had decreased due to the exodus of about 200,000 people and the destruction of infrastructure during the independence movement that began in 1999. To increase paddy production through the rehabilitation of irrigation facilities and paddy fields had been one of the priority development goals of the Timor-Leste government. Manatuto District was well known for its irrigated rice production and had high potential to increase productivity. Irrigation facilities covering an area of 660ha, located in Laclo in Manatuto District, were rehabilitated in 2003. However, double-crop farming had yet to be introduced due to problems of land preparation for rice cultivation.

The overall goal of this project was to increase farmers’ incomes through the improvement of the rice cultivation system and the adaptation of operation and maintenance methods of the Laclo irrigation scheme to at least two other irrigation schemes in Timor-Leste. The project also aimed to improve rice productivity through the improvement of the current irrigated rice farming system, the introduction of modified land preparation methods, and the establishment of a functional water users’ association.