On the evening of July 29th, an organizational meeting of the Palau Livestock Association was held in the Conference Room of Palau Community College.  The meeting was attended by numerous pig farmers, and several supporting agencies, including Palau Community College, the Bureau of Agriculture (BOA), the Small Business Development Center and the US Department of Agriculture.  Special guests at the meeting were representatives from the Taiwan Embassy, including Ambassador Tseng and Dr. Hsia.  [/restrict]

Dr. Hsia provided an extensive explanation of the program surrounding the slaughterhouse at the Bureau of Agriculture site in Ngchesar.  The slaughterhouse building is finished and the processing equipment should arrive by the end of September.  Four people from Palau will travel to Taiwan in September to receive training to slaughter pigs at the facility.  An opening ceremony and ribbon cutting for the slaughterhouse is expected in November.

The slaughterhouse will provide a level of quality control and hygienic standards that will enable farmers to sell meat products to restaurants and stores on Palau. While the standard operating procedures and certification criteria for the slaughterhouse are still being developed, it is expected that there will be two levels of certification for pigs that are processed at the slaughterhouse. One level of certification will be for pigs bred under the Taiwan-funded Animal Production Project at the Nekken piggery and fed with the feed mix produced at the Ngchesar facility.  A pilot project with the BOA and the Taiwan embassy provided six pigs to six farmers to be raised to slaughter weight.  After approximately six months and grown to approximately 200 pounds, these will be the first pigs to be processed at the slaughterhouse.  Dr. Hsia explained that the higher certification level is intended to provide assurance to restaurant and large market buyers that there are no trace amounts of drugs in the pigs, either from raising them or in the feed.  Also, he believes that the food from the Nekken facility will be free of fungus that could possibly contaminate the meat. This is an effort to provide the highest quality meat products possible.  The second certification will be for all other local pigs; meat from local pigs is expected to be sold in small stores.

While on-island, Dr. Hsia inseminated more pigs at the Nekken piggery in the continuing effort to increase the number of piglets available to farmers on Palau. Three generations of pigs have been bred so far.  Once they have reached the fifth generation of breed stock, they will work with farmers to continue to breed these pigs at farms throughout the country and provide assistance with artificial insemination and subsidized cost of feed.  This will greatly increase the number of pigs available to be processed at the slaughterhouse with the higher certification level.

Ambassador Tseng expressed his commitment to continued assistance to Palauan farmers and asked for patience from farmers as the slaughterhouse gears up for processing locally raised pigs.  He believes this is an important step for increasing food security on the island.  Director Sengebau expressed his gratitude to Ambassador Tseng for all the assistance that Taiwan has provided to Palauan farmers. [/restrict]