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Climate Change and Population Growth in Timor Leste: Implications for Food Security


The climate in Timor Leste (East Timor) is predicted to become about 1.5 °C warmer and about 10 % wetter on average by 2050. By the same year, the population is expected to triple from 1 to 2.5–3 million. This article maps the predicted changes in temperature and rainfall and reviews the implications of climate change and population growth on agricultural systems. Improved cultivars of maize, rice, cassava, sweet potato and peanuts with high yield performance have been introduced, but these will need to be augmented in the future with better adapted cultivars and new crops, such as food and fodder legumes and new management practices. The requirements for fertilizers to boost yields and terracing and/or contour hedgerows to prevent soil erosion of steeply sloping terrain are discussed. Contour hedges can also be used for fodder for improved animal production to provide protein to reduce malnutrition.

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We thank Martin Browne, Myrtille Lacoste, Professor William Erskine, Adjunct Professor Harry Nesbitt and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on an earlier version of the paper and Sue Dodimead of the Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture for administrative support. We also thank the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and AusAID for financial support.

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Molyneux, N., da Cruz, G.R., Williams, R.L. et al. Climate Change and Population Growth in Timor Leste: Implications for Food Security. AMBIO 41, 823–840 (2012).

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  • Timor Leste
  • Climate change
  • Population increase
  • Shifting agriculture
  • Food security
  • Small-holder farmers