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With Dr Craig Elevitch, Permanent Agricultural Resources (PAR)
Learning how to farm is a rite of passage in Palau.
Palauan children help on their family’s farm quite intensely up until they are in the 12th grade, with some going on to attend college.
Those that pursue agricultural careers in college are largely focused on technical jobs specialized within the agriculture sector.
Although traditional methods of increasing soil fertility are still practiced in Palau, the use of imported fertilizers and pesticides are increasing, along with soil erosion.
This has lead Palau Community College to focus some of its efforts on compost production and training.
As the opportunity to sell produce commercially increases, there is a “trend away from the traditional small-scale farming and agroforestry methods used by Palauan women towards larger farms operated by foreign males, [planting] with single crops destined for restaurants and supermarkets in Koror” (Mauritius +5 Status Report: Republic of Palau, 2010).
Before COVID-19, local farms were selling produce to various outlets of the thriving tourism industry. There was also a small amount of commercial sales of value-added local products, such as jams, wines, and taro shochu (an alcoholic beverage), for both local and tourist consumption.
“Palau cannot survive without tourism.” – Government institution representative, Palau
Taro is a particularly important crop in Palau both culturally and economically, as well as for subsistence purposes. According to the 2016 FAO Palau Country Report, some women employ foreign laborer (namely from the Philippines) to assist in the important work of taro production.
There is also subsistence production happening on community garden allotments, which are a relatively new phenomenon in Palau.
Government Educational Institutions
Palau Community College (PCC), Cooperative Extension & Research
Palau Bureau of Agriculture, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
Palau Taiwan Farmers Association
Palau Taiwan Farmers Association (PTFA) is a traditional farmers association that promotes subsistence farming, small scale market production, organic farming, and agroforestry.
PTFA assists farmers with acquiring farming plots and seedlings and also provides technical assistance and trainings.
PTFA also coordinates visits to/from neighbouring countries, namely Taiwan and the Philippines.
Palau Livestock Association
Palau Livestock Association (PLA) is a membership-based non-profit producers association.
PLA provides pig production training and marketing services to its membership, which includes 46 hog farms.
A very recent success of the association was the Covid-19 Food Fair, which took place on July 8th, 2020.
Offerings included fresh produce, local pork, and fresh fish, all of which sold out. The farmers market was subsidized by the Palau government with a $25,000 grant.
The funding allowed PLA producers to sell their pork at $1/pound, greatly helping consumers during the financially challenging times of the pandemic.