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Sustainable Agriculture Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP)

$21 million to increase the productivity and marketed production of smallholder agriculture.
Photo: Joao dos Santos


In Timor Leste, the agriculture sector sustains the livelihoods of 64% of the country’s labor force, but contributes to only around 10% of the economy. The unemployment rate is around 70%, with more than half of the population under 25 years old. Malnutrition and food insecurity are particularly pervasive in remote rural areas, which in many cases are only accessible by horse or foot, and nearly all households exhaust their home-grown food supplies within nine months. These areas typically have rain-fed crop land used for unsustainable small-scale subsistence farming, and large areas on steep slopes with infertile soils. They are also particularly vulnerable to weather shocks like floods and off-season rains.


The objective of Sustainable Agriculture Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP) is to improve incomes as well as food security and nutrition in select areas of Timor-Leste by improving country-led public sector investments to increase smallholder agricultural productivity, by empowering farmers and linking them to markets, by strengthening adaptive research and extension institutions, by reducing risk and vulnerability, by improving nonfarm rural livelihoods, and by strategically deploying technical assistance. SAPIP supports municipal and watershed agriculture development planning, farm development initiatives, small-scale infrastructure and farm equipment, and the Ministry of Agriculture’s planning, financing, monitoring, and coordination functions. It focuses on improved watershed management to enhance livelihoods and to reduce climate-related vulnerability by improving water management and supporting agro/social forestry and commercial forestry for environmental rehabilitation. Activities also include developing and strengthening farmer groups, associations, and cooperatives, which will engage women and young people as well.

Project Status



  • Timor-Leste



Focus area

  • Fragility

Supervising entity

  • World Bank


After an initial delay due to the national election, the project began implementing and has contracted  NGOs to support project activities in watershed management planning. As of December 2019, the project has benefitted 17,430 people (36.7 percent women). SAPIP has established and trained 146 farmer groups involving 4,200 farmers. Most of these farmers are now preparing investment plans for agriculture productivity, climate smart agriculture, and conservation interventions. 


Jan Joost Nijhoff
Senior Agriculture Economist & Task Team Leader, +62-21-5299-30392