Savor the Flavors of Palau! Crop – Enterprise Diversification

2014 Annual Report for OW13-138

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2013: $8,047.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: Western
State: Federated States of Micronesia
Principal Investigator:
Dr. L. Robert (Bob) Barber, Jr.
University of Guam Cooperative Extension Service

Savor the Flavors of Palau! Crop – Enterprise Diversification

Summary

This project builds upon current activities and findings of the Western SARE funded project “Island to Island, Farmer to Chef: An Agricultural Marketing Proposal” and it addresses needs identified at the 2007 Western SARE Subregional Conference in Guam—namely the imperative to “buy fresh, buy local.” Potential customers, agricultural professionals, producers, farmer associations, caterers, and producers have expressed a desire for “Palauan signature products,” “suitcase exports,” and value-added products which impart the “flavors of Palau.”

The project seeks to satisfy these expressed desires by developing a line of value-added enhanced products on the theme of “Savor the Flavors of Palau” from existing crops from family farms in Palau. This project is distinctive and creative in that it will be the first attempt by any producer to systematically address these expressed desires. This project is important as it will demonstrate an avenue to increase the viability and sustainability of family-owned farms.

Customer driven processing/packaging will be trialed and refined based on current purchasing habits of potential customers: Palauans living overseas, tourists, and restaurants. This may entail drying, pulverizing, fermentation, infusing, vacuum packing, bottling, fruit-shape packaging, and other. These changes will enhance products’ value by fulfilling the expressed needs/wants of the customers and by extending product shelf life. Lessons learned through the project will be used to increase the sustainability of areas already under cultivation. The wider array of product that farmers will be able to offer can improve the farms’ vitality.

The following raw agriculture produce that will be tested for processing include: spices (turmeric, ginger, cinnamon); flavorings (spondias sp.); fruit-based jams, jellies, and vinegars; cho’coco’nut (chocolate made with cocoa and coconut milk); and citrus zest, leaves, and power.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Objective 1. By the end of project month one, a marketing plan will have been developed for the value-added products. Performance of the first draft of the plan will be evaluated by University of Hawaii’s Community Economic Development Specialist. Based on this evaluation, the plan will be revised. Performance of revised plan will be evaluated on the existence of plan and adherence to the plan during the project though initial, interim, and final progress reports.

The subcontractor in Palau developed a marketing plan and has revised it once according to suggestions by five agricultural professionals. The active project timeline has also been adjusted from one full project year to about one year six months due to delays in contract processing and equipment shipping.

Objective 2. By the end of the project, total quantity of production of value-added products will have increased by 50% through utilization of energy and labor efficient equipment, techniques, and materials. Performance will be evaluated based on production records at beginning, second quarter, third quarter, and ending of the project.

There are has been no recorded increase in profit yet as the subcontractor is still in the product testing and development phase. The subcontractor has inventoried current value-added products in Palau in addition to those in Guam, Korea, Fiji, and Pohnpei. Additionally, in the last quarter of 2014 the subcontractor was finally able to receive all necessary equipment after delays between 8-12 weeks due to shipping distances.

Objective 3. By the end of the project, profits will have increased by 15% through improved customer orientated packaging and labeling, plus extending the shelf-life of the products. Performance will be evaluated based on profit records at beginning, second quarter, third quarter, and ending of the project.

There is no recorded increased in profit, as the subcontractor is still in the product testing and development phase. However, the subcontractor inventoried value-added products from Guam, Korea, Fiki, and Pohnpei, and intends to assimilate the best customer-packaging and labeling observed.

Objective 4. By the end of the project, a line of “Savor the Flavors of Palau” products will have been developed, pre-tested, and refined. Performance will be evaluated based on the existence of the products, pre-test results, photos of products before and after refinement, and marketing records.

The subcontractor is at the developing and testing stage. Dried Spondias leaves have been developed, refined and are undergoing further pre-testing. The subcontractor will conduct further market research and testing at an agricultural showcase tentatively scheduled for February 10.

Objective 5. By the end of the project, outreach materials on the marketing of niche products will have been developed, pre-tested, refined, and distributed. Performance will be evaluated based on copies of the materials, distribution vehicles, distribution logs, and mention in local media, farmers associations’ minutes of meetings, and use in trainings of producers, agricultural professionals, and affiliated professionals.

The subcontractor has produced the public service announcement and radio program on niche marketing. The publication on niche marketing has been finalized and distributed, including through its publication in the two major newspapers on Palau. The subcontractor has also been very active in conducting outreach by presenting at the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) and farmer associations.

Accomplishments/Milestones

Mr. Bob Bishop of Palau was formally engaged as the contractor to implement research and testing of value-added/processed products in Palau. All necessary equipment was shipped to Palau in the final quarter of 2014.

A marketing plan was developed for the value-added products. The first draft of the plan was reviewed by University of Hawaii’s Community Economic Development Specialist plus five other agricultural professionals. Based on these reviews, the plan was revised.

A radio call-in program was produced, aired, and recorded at the most popular station on November 18. Producers’ reactions were favorable.

Presentations were delivered to three farmers associations (Palau Taiwan Farmers Association, Palau Organic Growers Association, Edumael Club) on July 15, August 22, and September 11.  Producers provided favorable feedback.

One article each on niche marketing was published in the two local papers (October 9 in Tia Belau, October 10 in Island Times).  Favorable comments and inquiries were provided by producers and general public.

A publication was produced on niche product marketing and revised based on feedback from five agricultural professionals. The final publication was shared with participants of a producers’ training (“Tuning Up your Farm for Improved Performance, Greater Safety, and Smoother Profits”) on November 24, and at the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) General Assembly and Technical Exchange on December 11-12 in Fiji. POET is a nonprofit membership organization composed of farmers’ associations and farmer support organizations throughout the Pacific region. The Technical Exchange is the knowledge-sharing forum with the aim to improve access to organic technologies for Pacific farmers and build capacity in organic agriculture business development through information sharing and the building of a joint research platform. The POET presentation generated keen interest. 

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

The concepts of value-adding and niche marketing has gained wider acceptance as evidenced by “taro patch chatter,” meetings of farmers association and presentations and questions at the recent Economic Summit. Training on the two concepts was conducted during the “Tuning-up Your Farm for Improved Performance, Greater Safety, and Smoother Profits” workshop held on November 24, 2014.

The geographic outreach of the project was extended to throughout the Pacific Island region by presentations at the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community’s (POET) Technical Exchange held on December 11-23 in Fiji.

The subcontractor developed a poster on the “Savor the Flavors of Palau” project for Strengthening Agriculture’s Infrastructure in Western Pacific conference held in Guam in May 2014. He shared the project outline and progress with some conference participants.

The subcontractor was also able to leverage resources from Western SARE with independently acquired materials and supplies including a wheat grass juicer, refractometer, vacuum sealer, and a dehydrator.

Collaborators:

Ken Love

kenlove@hawaii.edu
Farmer/Chef/Ag Consultant
PO Box 1242

Captain Cook, HI 96704
Office Phone: 8083232717

Kesewaol Bishop

addnvalueforyou@palaunet.com
Farmer
PO Box 1123
Koror, Palau, FM 96940
Office Phone: 6805352254
John Oiph

johnoiph@gmail.com
farmer/rancher
POB 784
Koror, Palau, FM 96940
Office Phone: 6805872342
Robert V. Bishop

addnvalueforyou@palaunet.com
Technical Advisor/farmer
PO Box 1123
Koror, Palau, FM 96940
Office Phone: 6805872254
Florencio Adelbai

addnvalueforyou@palaunet.com
Producer, President Palau Taiwan Farmers Association
Palau Taiwan Farmers Association
Karmaliang,
Ngeschar, Palau, FM 96940
Office Phone: 6806221020
Meikok Chin

meikokc@gmail.com
farmer
Edumael
Koror, Palau, FM 96940
Office Phone: 6807799433