“GO and learn as much you can,” East Timorese Denisia Brito was told by her parents when they heard she was Warwick-bound as part of an initiative helping farmers increase their crop yield.
The East Timor Ministry of Agriculture (MAF) staff member works within the ministry under the Australian government-funded Seeds of Life (SoL) program.
“The aim of the program is to get good varieties of the East Timorese food crops so our farms can produce more food,” Mrs Brito said.
“Some of the staple crops we grow are corn, maize, peanuts and mungbeans and these crops are also grown in the Darling Downs region.
“Hermitage Research Station in Warwick are breeding new varieties of the staple crops we have and we are here getting more experience.”
SoL program team leader Rob Williams said Australia had 100 years of crop propagation experience.
“The East Timorese MAF staff members are here to learn from us the Australian way of breeding these crops,” Mr Williams said.
“Food insecurity is a major issue in East Timor with many rural households experiencing food shortages.
“SoL's work is a mix of research, training, trialling with farmers, setting up research stations and applying socio-economic research.”
MAF staff member Ermelinda Hornai said she was happy to be on the Downs.
“When we go back from Warwick we hope to use the agricultural system here for the crops in East Timor,” Mrs Hornai said.
“We have been doing homestays here and living here is fantastic; I tried Vegemite and found it very sour and salty.
“I admire Warwick and so many things here are better than East Timor - I love the gardens here.”
Mrs Hornai said Southern Downs farms had more cattle and sheep in comparison to East Timor.
“The management of farms is exceptionally high here,” she said.
“In East Timor families have an average of eight children and my mum has 13 which is good if you live on a farm.”