Back to the basics: Palau prioritizes food security by reinforcing agriculture
Koror— Despite the strong cultural traditions connected with food, fishing and agriculture, the Palauans’ are moving away from the bounty of the land and the ocean as they develop a taste for processed imported products.
With food security as a national priority for this small island nation, the Palauan government has initiated a program to direct Palauans back to the basics.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment has launched a program called “Initiative: Our Food is Our Responsibility.”
“Within the ministry, the Bureau of Agriculture helps support our people grow their own food, benefit financially from it, and as such be able to get the food that they need in the quantity that they need,” said Gwendalyn Sisior, coordinator for the Environmental Planning and Coordination Unit under the Office of the Minister.
Sisior said the program has produced several agricultural projects aimed at increasing, diversifying and innovating agriculture production in Palau.
“Having this food program, we need to be able to measure its effectiveness and the impact assessment methodology will be able to help us do that,” Sisior said.
“It is really important to help inform a lot of the work we do and whether we are achieving the work we are doing to make Palau a more food-secure nation,” she added.
The first case study was on a taro farm in Ngatpang. The second case study was a livelihood project on integrated farming practices that incorporated livestock with crop production with six piggery farmers in Aimelikk, Ngaraard, Melekeok, Ngchesar and Airai.
“In examining the residual impact of the projects on the farm holders, the evidence included primary data such as acreage of land under sustainable or innovative production, number of farmers with access to new and innovative farming and livestock production, and the percentage increase of a household and community’s access to stored water,” according to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program or SPREP.
The project is in line with the European Union-funded Global Climate Change Alliance Plus Scaling up Pacific Adaptation or GCCA+ SUPA, which endorses adaptation measures in specific sectors supported by knowledge management and capacity building.
The GCCA+ SUPA project is delivered collaboratively by SPREP, the Pacific Community and the University of the South Pacific.
“During the field trials, the Palau Conservation Society was engaged as consultants to facilitate the application of the impacts’ methodology,” SPREP said in a press release.
“They organized a working group of technicians and experts from the Bureau of Agriculture, validated the preconditions and identified the indicators that would reflect the preconditions,” SPREP said.
SPREP said the social surveys and field visits undertaken suggested that the return on investment was low based on the slow uptake of interventions.
“With lessons of the past to inform future planning, authorities and stakeholders acknowledge the need for built-in sustainability in terms of support for maintenance of infrastructure and ongoing technical assistance like extension services for the farm holders, most of whom are women,” SPREP said.