Skip to main content
Timor Leste hero

Sustainable Agriculture Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP)

$21 million to increase the productivity and marketed production of smallholder agriculture.

Photo: Joao dos Santos

About the Project

Timor Leste’s 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%, while more than half of the population is under 25 years old. Malnutrition and food insecurity are particularly pervasive in remote rural areas, often 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 cropland used for unsustainable small-scale subsistence farming and large areas on steep slopes with infertile soils and are particularly vulnerable to weather shocks, like floods and off-season rains. 

SAPIP aims to improve incomes, food security, and nutrition in select areas of Timor Leste by improving country-led public sector investments to increase smallholder agricultural productivity. It also empowers farmers and links them to markets, strengthening adaptive research and extension institutions, reducing risk and vulnerability, improving rural non-farm livelihoods, and strategically deploying technical assistance. Further, the project 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. 

Activities focus on improved watershed management to enhance livelihoods and reduce climate-related vulnerability by improving water management and supporting commercial forestry for environmental rehabilitation. Farmer groups, associations, and cooperatives better engage women and young people. As SAPIP introduces new technologies, it plans to roll out training using the Farmer Field School model, spreading knowledge and skills on agriculture best practices and demonstrating the benefits and cost savings associated with working as a group. Additionally, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is supporting the government to strengthen its monitoring and evaluation functions. 


  • Timor-Leste

Project Status




Supervising entity

  • World Bank

Call Year


GAFSP Funding Amount



As of December 2021, SAPIP has benefitted 70,121 people, 47% of them women, providing 123,554 days of training to raise agricultural productivity to scientists, extension agents, agro-dealers, farmers, and community members. Significant progress has been made with the 550 farmer groups the project has established, and 14,386 farmers are now members of an association, against the end target of 16,500. 


Vikas Choudhary

Nizia Maria Sarmento Lopes Da Cruz

Sarah A. Simons