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Informal Seed Production Advisor, Seeds of Life program

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, East Timor
Location: Dili with travel to the districts
Last Date: November 26, 2010


Duration: 3 years with possible extension of two years
Commencement date: 1 February, 2011
Closing date for applications: 26 November, 2010
Remuneration: A competitive package will be offered

Description of the organisation:
Seeds of Life (SoL) is a program within the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) in East Timor (Timor Leste). The third phase of Seeds of Life (SoL III), 2011-2016, aims to improve food security in East Timor through increased productivity of food crops. The Governments of East Timor and Australia collaboratively fund the program. Australian funding is provided through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and is managed by ACIAR. The Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA) within The University of Western Australia (UWA) coordinates the Australian funded activities.

SoL III will commence in February 2011 with a team consisting of more than 60 professional Timorese staff plus 9 international advisors. The Informal Seed Production Advisor (IFSPA) will work closely with (i) the Director and staff of the National Directorate for Agricultural Community Development (NDACD) and (ii) MAF staff from the District Extension Offices, down to the Suco Extension Officers. Informal seed is produced by farmers without Government supervision. The advisor will report to the SoL Australian Team Leader (ATL).

General description of position

The ISPA will:

• Take the lead in providing support to MAF for the implementation of Component 3 (Informal Seed Production and Distribution), ensuring it is implemented in accordance with the intention of the design documents and formal agreements;
• Establish and maintain a close primary counterpart relationship with the Director of the NDACD, and through him/her work closely to build the capacity of the Directorate and the District Extension Services to promote the production of informal seed by Community Seed Production Groups (CSPGs);
• Design, manage the implementation of, and evaluate a range of pilot activities designed to stimulate the market-based exchange of informal seed; and
• Support the SoL ATL with the implementation of Component 4 activities (Seed System Management), as required.

Key tasks and responsibilities

The ISPA will:

• Actively guide and mentor staff of the Directorate involved in the implementation of Component 3 activities.
• Advise on the development of CSPGs as a mechanism for producing and distributing informal seed, in terms of number, composition and location of groups; type and duration of support required; and development of linkages (e.g. with Formal Seed Marketing groups and focal seed merchants) for distribution of informal seed produced.
• Monitor and evaluate the development of CSPGs and progressively refine the implementation model on the basis of results achieved.
• Advise on the development of FSMGs as a mechanism for helping link CSPGs with markets and for expanding their overall scope of activities, in terms of number, composition and location of groups; type and duration of support required; and development of market linkages for on-sale of seed.
• Identify potential focal seed merchants in district markets and provide support to facilitate their development as an outlet for the sale of improved seed by CSPGs, FSMGs, and individual farmers.
• Organise seed fairs as a means of helping to monetise seed producers and improve access to seed for seed-insecure farmers.
• Monitor and evaluate the development of FSMGs, focal seed merchants, and seed fairs as mechanisms for helping to promote the market-based distribution of improved seed, and progressively refine the implementation model on the basis of results achieved.
• Develop and implement a system to improve the flow of information and facilitate trade between suppliers and buyers of improved seed, including information on potential suppliers, volume of supply available, potential buyers and volume of demand.
• Identify the need for, plan and manage the implementation of targeted capacity building activities designed to support the professional development of MAF extension staff involved in developing CSPGs and FSMGs.
• Guide the monitoring and evaluation and social science unit investigations undertaken to gain a richer understanding of the informal seed system and how it works, e.g. in terms of gaining a better understanding of the role of farmer-to-farmer seed exchange; and a better understanding of the ways farmers manage their own seed and variety security.
• Identify the need for and advise MAF on the development of new/ revised policies and procedures/ systems required to stimulate the development of informal seed production and distribution systems.
• Plan, coordinate and monitor the activities of the 3 Regional Advisers insofar as they relate to implementation of Component 3 activities.
• Provide input as required for the development of improved variety technical and promotional materials.
• Assist the SoL ATL with overarching activities designed to strengthen MAF’s capacity to manage the national seed system as required (i.e. Component 4 activities).
• Assist the SoL ATL to establish and manage systems for planning, monitoring and evaluating program activities.

Skills and Experience

The successful candidate will have:


• A University post-graduate degree in related subject.
• At least 5 year’s experience working with the development of informal seed systems, including long term implementation experience in a developing country.
• A sound understanding of the issues and dynamics involved in producing and distributing seed through informal systems.
• Proven technical skills in the following areas:
o Mechanisms for stimulating the production of informal seed;
o Mechanisms for stimulating market-based exchange mechanisms; and
o Improving access for marginalised groups to improved seed.
• Demonstrated ability to establish strong working relationships with and coordinate a small team of national counterparts.
• Well developed skills in: inter-personal communication; report writing; numeracy; and networking.
• Moderate computer literacy.
• Fluency in English.


• Experience in SE Asia or East Timor.
• Basic proficiency in either Tetun, Bahasa Indonesia or Portuguese.

Interested candidates can submit a short covering letter, CV, names of three referees and a document addressing the required skills and experience electronically to Dr Harry Nesbitt, Adjunct Professor, University of Western Australia ( ). Further enquiries can be addressed to Professor William Erskine, tel. (+61 8) 6488 1903. For further information on the SOL II program, SOL III design and Terms of Reference for advertised SOL III advisors positions see 


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