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Aquaculture creates benefits for rural households in Timor-Leste

Staff writer ▼ | May 28, 2016
In Timor-Leste, where malnutrition rates are high, aquaculture is providing rural households with access to nutritious fish and vital income.
Freshwater aquaculture   Where malnutrition rates are high
In their inland village of Lacoliu in Baucau municipality, perched high in the mountains, fish is only available in the local market once or twice a month.

Supporting rural households to adopt freshwater aquaculture is a key focus of theNorwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs-funded Combatting Malnutrition and Poverty through Aquaculture in Timor-Leste (COMPAC-TL) project, which aims to improve access to nutritious foods and increase incomes for rural households.

In Timor-Leste, malnutrition is chronic among the population. Around 58 per cent of children under five are stunted (too short for their age) and 45 per cent are underweight (WHO 2016).

Contributing factors include inadequate protein intake, lack of dietary diversity, extreme poverty and emphasis on staple foods (especially rice).

Since 2014, the project has trained over 1500 farming households across six rural municipalities to grow tilapia in household ponds. The project supports the Timor-Leste National Aquaculture Development Strategy (2012-2030), which aims to increase annual per capita fish consumption from 6 kg to 15 kg by 2020.