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With Dr Craig Elevitch, Permanent Agricultural Resources (PAR)
Agriculture is a priority sector in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and is identified as one of the three key drivers of the economy under the nation’s current Strategic Development Plan, along with tourism and fisheries.
In Yap the preferred locally produced staple food is swamp taro, other common locally produced vegetable crops include cucumber, Chinese cabbage, eggplant, okra, string beans, yam, and other types of taro.
Locally grown produce is consumed and sold locally, largely because of restrictive U.S. regulations on exports (e.g., products must be USDA certified).
Additionally, it is largely cost prohibitive and logistically challenging to ship agricultural products given the high cost of shipping by air and the limited flights, which was two flights per week, before the COVID-19 pandemic
The only commercial agriculture activity in Yap is betel nut for export to Guam and Saipan, with annual revenue valued at approximately $4M.
Leading farmer organizations
Yap has few NGOs and many small women’s associations, a number of which work on agriculture and food security projects. The Yap Women’s Association represents 73 registered women’s groups within Yap state.
Yap Women’s Association
The Yap Women’s Association is an umbrella NGO founded in 1955 that represents 73 registered traditional women’s groups in the state of Yap. YWA’s mission is to empower women with entrepreneurial opportunities while maintaining the traditional cultural heritage of the Yapese people.
Women members make traditional handmade items (including jewelry, baskets, and Yapese nunuw) that are sold online through the YWA website and directly in the communities, with a focus on sales to tourists.
Gender Support Office
Formerly the Women’s Interest Office, Yap’s Gender Support Office’s (GSO) goals are to promote healthy eating, provide economic opportunities (with a focus on women that are not in the formal workforce), and provide technical assistance on how to maintain sustainable projects.
GSO is currently working on 11 small-scale food security projects benefiting women, community members, and elementary schools across the island state of Yap.
The projects include nurseries, gardens, and promotion of and education on local food consumption, preservation, and storage. Projects are intentionally distributed across the island in order to provide equal access to Yap’s residents.
The Gender Support Offices also partners with other public entities, including the Yap Government’s Department of Agriculture and COM-Yap Campus Cooperative Research and Extension Program, as well as private organizations, to address the technical assistance needs of its many project.