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Country Briefs

  Timor-Leste

Reference Date: 13-May-2016

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Reduced cereal production expected due to dry conditions for second consecutive year in 2016

  2. Cereal imports in 2016/17 forecast to increase from previous year’s already high level

  3. Acute localized food insecurity persists

Cereal production to decline in 2016 for second consecutive year due to dry conditions

Due to the delayed planting caused by drought, harvesting of the 2016 main season rice crop has been delayed, while the maize harvest is ongoing and expected to be completed in May. Erratic rains associated with the El Niño episode since the start of the season in November, resulted in both area and yield reductions of the maize and rice crops. The most affected municipalities are Bobonaro, Covalima and Lautem, as well as coastal regions of Viqueque and parts of Baucau, which combined account for close to two‑thirds of the country’s annual crop production. There are also concerns about the impact of continuing dry weather on planting of the secondary season crops, which is currently ongoing in areas with bi‑modal rainfall and will continue until the end of July for maize and August for rice. The aggregate rice production in 2016 is, therefore, anticipated to decrease by a further 6 percent from last year’s already sharply‑reduced output to about 30 percent below the average of the past five years. Maize output is forecast by FAO at 60 000 tonnes, 8 percent down from the 2015 reduced level and 21 percent below the five‑year average.

Livestock conditions have also been negatively affected with the lack of adequate pasture and reduced water availability resulting in worsening body conditions and increased mortality rates.

Cereal imports in 2016/17 marketing year forecast to increase from last year’s high level

The country heavily depends on imports to meet its consumption needs. Cereal imports in the 2016/17 marketing year (April/March) are forecast to increase by 16 percent to 150 000 tonnes compared with the previous year’s already high level, reflecting two consecutive years of reduced cereal production.

Pockets of acute food insecurity persist

Overall, the food security situation in the country is insecure, also due to the heavy import dependency. Severe localized cereal production shortfalls for the second consecutive year, particularly in the municipalities of Ainaro (southwest), Lautem (east), Ermera (northwest), Liquica (north), coastal regions of Viqueque (south) and outskirts of the capital, Dili, are expected to exacerbate the food insecurity situation of vulnerable groups. According to the latest official estimates, the prolonged drought has affected approximately 350 000 people (one‑third of the total population), mainly located in central highlands, eastern and south western parts of the country. Access to food also remains a major challenge in upland areas and remote villages.