Country Profiles

Inputs sector

The overwhelming majority of cattle feed is sourced through grazing, crop residues and forages on-farm or in nearby areas, with few external suppliers of concentrate or mixed feeds and minerals (except salt). There is however a fledgling market in forages in some areas (Oecussi) especially where there are concentrations of fattening and trading households. MAF is interested in promoting a feed market (including forages and nurseries) to increase the supply of feed and so that farmers will “understand” the value of feeding better.

Virtually all cattle in TL are Bali breed, bred through natural mating by bulls owned by the household. Peak calving tends to be in the middle of dry season, when feed resources for the cow is diminishing. However, as is the case in eastern Indonesia, Bali cattle are well adapted to their harsh environment of low or variable nutrition, reflected in generally good body condition and high inherent fertility (Lindsay and Entwistle, 2003). The low mature size (cow mature weight is about 275 kg) of these cattle is an advantage because it infers low maintenance, but does not reduce production efficiency is enhanced by their adaptation to the situation. There have been limited imports of other breeds into TL (Brahmans), but there does not appear to be a serious policy measures to. A shift to larger breeds would be a retrograde step because the (limited) feed available is increasingly used for maintenance and less for production (reproduction and live weight gain) (Poppi et al., 2011).

Animal health problems that effect cattle and buffalo in TL include internal and external parasites, brucellosis and haemorrhagic septicaemia. Government and external agencies pay significant attention to animal health through vaccination5 , disease surveillance and treatment, the development of the national laboratory, the development of Animal Health Centres, the training of vets and various regulations. Animal health is seen as a public service, but the GoTL is seeking to develop private sector delivery systems.

As could be expected in a fledgling country, there are major challenges in building an effective animal health and veterinary system. There are, for example, difficulties in buying, importing, distributing and applying vaccines (especially with poor cattle handling facilities). Donor-designed systems of fostering market-based animal health services – including training of “Village Livestock Workers” provide services for a fee, and outlets for basic veterinary products – have not been successful. While farmers are clearly concerned about animal diseases and the associated mortalities and low performance, they are generally not willing to pay for these services. It is likely that many animal health problems are symptomatic of poor basic animal husbandry practices including under-nutrition, lack of water and poor pen hygiene.

The GoTL (with donors) has begun a vaccination program free to farmers for pigs (cholera or classical swine fever), chickens (Newcastle Disease) and cattle (Haemorrhagic Septicaemia). There are mixed reports of vaccination coverage rates for cattle from 60-80% (Valera, 2014) to 30-40% (Ministry of Economy and Development) to 35% (SPVD Oecussi, personal communication) but aim to reach 80%. The state does training on brucellosis detection and treatment, but do not vaccinate against it.

TL had an extensive extension network under Indonesian rule. After independence, resource limits and World Bank advice meant that TL did not seek to establish a public extension system, which was to be filled by the private sector and NGOs. This proved inadequate, and in the 2000s, government and development agencies embarked on the daunting task of building an agricultural extension program with international support. A Policy for Agricultural Extension was drafted in 2008 with a system designed to provide publically funded services free of charge to farmers by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. There are specialist livestock officers down to (65) sub-districts, and agricultural generalists down to (442) townships. It was envisioned that the extension agents would complement the Village Livestock Workers (see Section 5.1.3 above).

As is the case throughout the region, the system on paper works very differently in practice. Resources are stretched, extension agents have diverse and multiple tasks that can’t all be completed, and the Village Livestock Worker system has not been sustained. Perhaps most importantly, extension agents face major challenges in changing semi-subsistence systems and the practices of farmers with expectations of handouts, mistrust and often low education levels.

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