Palau boosts buy-local initiative
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Koror-- From Roselle fruit preserves and coconut oils infused with elilai to itabori, tet and bedaoch, hundreds of Palau residents had the opportunity to taste, feel and purchase locally made products at the Second Biodiversity Friendly Local Product Showcase on Dec. 2.
“This event was held to showcase local products. There are a wide variety of items all made in Palau," President Surangel S. Whipps, Jr. said.
Belau National Museum and Palau Chamber of Commerce held the showcase at the Ngarachamayong Cultural Center with the support of Palau Biodiversity Project under the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment.
"There were storyboards, jams, fishing gear, soap, bracelets, earrings, flowers for your hair. It's very exciting to see these local artists that produce different local products that are all Palauan-made," Whipps said. "I did my Christmas shopping here."
He pointed to his necktie, which was made by Sam Adelbai: "Ng kmal klebokel."
The President encouraged everyone to buy local and support local artisans, farmers, and food producers.
"We have to buy products made in Palau by Palauans, so the money circulates within Palau," he said.
Samuel Scott, Palau Chamber of Commerce president, said the showcase is a great start to bigger and more frequent events that help promote local entrepreneurs and artists.
Scott said like last year, this year's event was very successful.
"We don't want this just to be an annual event. We hope to connect local producers with potential buyers and retail outlets. We would hope to see this advance and get the local producers online so that they're selling to the world," Scott said. He added that having local producers for food, art and other products helps to minimize reliability on imported products "that look like they're made in Palau, but they're actually brought in from abroad."
"Ideally what we want is ... more locally produced products on store shelves," Scott said.
Anu Gupta Bintorio, with the Palau Biodiversity Project (GEF6) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and the Environment, said the showcase is about making biodiversity and environmentally friendly products more mainstream by incorporating them into their business practices.
"In our support role, we are helping our partners put on this event that really celebrates the nation's local producers who are using environmentally friendly and biodiversity-friendly practices as they make their products," she said. The event brings together producers "so that our nation's buyers, policymakers and the public can see them and meet them and see the diversity of products that are out there and see the diversity of environmentally- and biodiversity-friendly practices that they use."
She said it's also a good opportunity for producers to learn from each other. For example, during last year's event, there were producers who used plastic to package their products but learned ways to use more environmentally-friendly paper packaging.
"So it's a great learning event," she said. "It's also a very important event to get more local products out into our community (and) it's an alternative to the imported products that we see. Imports come with climate change, and carbon-emission problems. And locally made products made with sustainable products are really the way that we want to go as Palau is developing its tourism and its branding as a pristine paradise." (Office of Palau President)