Low food self-sufficiency is one of the serious issues facing Palau, however, it is not easy to improve this situation due to problems such as lack of cultivation environment, production technology, human resources etc. Not many farmers practice agriculture on a commercial basis, and the supply of domestically produced fresh foods is limited. Among the fresh food products in Palau, there are good examples of commercial cultivation in vegetables, however, there seems to be almost no cases in fruits. Even though we can get local fresh fruits in markets, the products might be simply “the Grace of God” just picked from trees without any care and cultivation.

In Japan, breeding of fruits and the cultivation technique are so advanced that many foreigners who visited are amazed by the taste of the high-quality fresh fruits. Mr.KODAMA Yoichi, JICA volunteer, who is assigned to Cooperative Research and Extension of Palau Community College (PCC-CRE), is working tirelessly with his colleagues at the college to introduce the Japanese fruit cultivation technique to Palau. Mr. Kodama is the first JICA volunteer, of more than 290 past and present JICA volunteers, who is an expert in fruit cultivation.

KODAMA says “I think Palau has a very suitable environment for growing tropical fruits. Many old Palauans say they ate plenty of fruits such as mango, avocado and so on when they were young. But the fruit trees became too big now, and it has made harvest of the fruits difficult. I came here to Palau mainly to introduce the pruning techniques to make the trees smaller and grow well, which is an essential technique to make fruit cultivation in Palau more effective and efficient.  Growing fruit trees well is not so difficult if you know the 5 basic elements. First, planting trees in fertile, well-drained and sunny fields. Second, taking appropriate planting interval when planting saplings. Third, pruning at the right time with appropriate methods. Fourth, proper fertilization.  Fifth, proper pest control.  Now I want you to start to plant from even one seedling of fruit tree and enjoy growing it. I am willing to provide technical advice if you need. I hope my activities as JICA volunteer will be an opportunity to change fruit cultivation in Palau, and generate commercial farming in future.”

Dr. Christpher KITALONG, the VICE President of Palau Community College Cooperative Research and Extension, says “Palau has a long history of agroforestry and there have been many introductions of fruit trees over time from pre-western visits from settlers and lost travelers to Spanish, German, Japanese and Trust Territory times.  Although there has been a long history of coconut collection from Palau, fruit development was only heavily commercialized during the Japanese occupation.  With Mr.KODAMA we have an opportunity to relearn important fruit tree management skills straight from the source of major fruit cultivation; we hope this is the first of many programs that provide basic guidance for agriculture management and plant protection. Mr.KODAMA is not only an extremely hard worker with excellent skills, but he is also one of the most friendly and down to earth people I know acting as a bright light at the college for all to see.  We look forward to more JICA collaborations with the college to develop skills and technology that can be used by local Palauans to enhance livelihood, health through appreciation and use of plants, our land and each other”.

Last year, JICA volunteer program in Palau commemorated 25 years of its history. During the quarter century, more than 290 volunteers have worked and contributed not only to socio economic development of Palau, but also to mutual understanding between both countries through their grassroots activities. The cooperation has been unique and precious in Palau which enables sustainable development by providing human to human relationships between the two countries.

To learn more about this and other JICA Programs, contact the Ministry of State or JICA Palau Office, or visit https://www.jica.go.jp/english or Facebook, JICA Palau Office.

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