On Goats, Stimulus, and Independence

By Kambes Kesolei —-

At the 4th Airai Conference on Cheldebechel held last September, Fred Sengebau, Director of the Bureau of Agriculture spelled out one of the national government’s initiatives: “The nation as a whole produces sufficient food within its domestic borders to meet the essential food needs of its people even if foreign food supplies were to be halted for an extended period of time.” That is good news.

Another piece of good news is the report that Harry R. Fritz, Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism has returned home this week from the Philippines after having inspected the 120 healthy goats set to arrive sometime this month.There  follows high hope for Palau to move to increase production of locally grown meat.

However, looking back at history, efforts to create a thriving population of goats in Palau never took off in the over two hundred years since they were first introduced.

On August 23, 1790, on the orders of the Court of Directors of the East India Company, the “Panther” and ‘Endeavour” under Captain McCluer and Drummond from Bombay, India, were to stop along the way to collect grain, cattle, plants, seeds as gifts to Ibedul and to inform him of the dead of his son Lebuu.

Upon arrival in Palau on January 19, 1791, many gifts were presented to the Palauans, who were amazed at the variety and quantity of the supplies. The gifts included a wide variety of animals, cattles, pigs, goats, ducks, plants, arms and ammunitions.

On July 14, 1798, bringing tools and utensils from the Bombay government, Lieutenant Snook who was a crew member of the “Panther” reported that of the stock that they had brought earlier to Palau the sheep did not survive, but the goats and pigs were plentiful in the northern islands and districts.

Today, it’s entirely a different story. Contrast that bit of history about plentiful goats roaming on the island over two centuries ago and the present effort to repopulate the island of the same food source and it gives an idea of the daunting task that lie ahead.

The Englishmen gave us goats as gift over two-hundred years ago. The Republic of China (ROC) is giving us goats in the form of stimulus funds as we speak. The same government of ROC gave other economic stimuli in the form of coconut planting and compact road beautification projects.

If we are to apply the same economic test with the goats as with new compact economic assistance that will end in 2024, will the agriculture stimulus from ROC bring economic benefits after 15 years?

Anyone remember the fishing dock improvements, ice making plants, and fishing boats provided by the government of Japan way back in the early 1990’s?

And speaking of stimulus, no doubt, the compact of free association is the mother of all economic stimulus. The first 15 years are done and over with and the result was essential that we negotiate for the next 15.

The new compact money goats better bring economic benefits this time around and should be within the next 15 years as well, then we can truly say independent.

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