Tasty terraces in Timor-Leste!

March 4, 2020

Terraces help prevent landslides and ensure hillside farms have moist, happy soil.

In Fadobloko, RAEBIA staff and farmers show off their tasty terraces, with pineapple and lemongrass helping to hold the soil in place. (Katie Breen/SeedChange)

In the extremely steep hillside villages of Timor-Leste, the winter rainy season is a welcome gift after months of drought. But on lands that have been cleared and repeatedly used for agriculture even these welcome rains come with the risk that they may wash away the precious soil covering its surfaces.

Farmers hold soil in place and prevent it from washing away by building terraces. With training provided by our partner organization, RAEBIA, farmers have learned how to sculpt steep hillsides into what look like oversized earthen staircases.

Together with compost and mulch to keep the soil healthy, terraces help prevent landslides and ensure hillside farms have moist, happy soil.

Terraces in Fadobloko, Timor-Leste. (Katie Breen/SeedChange)

Terraces are also tasty

Farmers in Timor-Leste have discovered that two tasty crops—pineapple and lemongrass—are ideal for creating a living border along the edge of the terraces. These crops and their root systems, planted along the edge of the terraces, keep soil from washing away. They also provide an additional source of food. Pineapples are harvested as they mature and the lemongrass is picked periodically to flavour cooked meat and to produce tea.

Pineapples planted on the edge of terraces provide an edible solution to soil erosion. (Katie Breen/SeedChange)

A large focus of our work in Timor-Leste is soil and water conservation—two things clearly linked to agricultural practices. Soil that allows water to percolate through it slowly actually acts as a filter for water, resulting in cleaner water downstream.

So good, healthy soil benefits entire watersheds!