Our Food Is Our Responsibility (Keled A Ngercheled)
Keled A Ngercheled is the island nation of Palau’s initiative to increase food security by improving sustainable food systems across multiple sectors, both on land and at sea. It is a homegrown initiative to change Palau’s food security by changing behaviours and priorities.
The country committed publicly to sustainably tripling food production at the 2022 Our Ocean Conference. To highlight Palau’s commitment, Palau’s president, Surangel Whipps Jr., gave 2022 the theme ‘Ensuring Our Security and Safety’.
The president’s cabinet acts as a steering committee for Keled A Ngercheled by aligning high-level policies to ensure food security and sustainable cross-sector food systems. Each of Palau’s eight ministries sits on a Keled A Ngercheled Task Force that is integrating food security and sustainable food systems into government-wide practices and working on cross-sectoral programmes and indicators. Minister Steven Victor of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and the Environment, who co-chaired the Our Ocean Conference, is the Keled A Ngercheled Task Force champion.
The task force launched the Keled A Ngercheled Initiative with a public awareness campaign. The campaign focuses on ‘Our Responsibility’ by encouraging purchase, production, equitable investment and innovation in local healthy foods.
In keeping with the theme of ‘Ensuring Our Security and Safety’, Minister Victor issued a Ministerial Declaration declaring 2022 ‘The Year of Keled A Ngercheled’, mandating that the ministry implement policies and practices to improve food security. For all orders of food or meals purchased with ministerial funds or grants, explicit requests are made to the vendors to maximise the amount of locally grown foods, pelagic and/or aquacultured fish or invertebrates, and plastic-free packaging (including avoiding Styrofoam).
The campaign aims to increase public support for local fishers and farmers, both dwindling professions, and increase awareness of environmentally and culturally sustainable methods to reach food security.
By promoting local production, Keled A Ngercheled aims to move closer towards food security by making locally sourced and produced foods sufficiently available, accessible and safe.
The campaign engages with individuals (consumers, producers, processors, distributors) to encourage them to make healthy food choices, support local producers and food system workers and reduce waste.
As part of the initiative, the eight ministries of the task force will mainstream prioritising food security in their actions. The campaign encourages broader engagement within society to follow the Keled A Ngercheled framework, aiming for higher levels of food security.
As Palau imports 85 percent of its food, many people do not have access to nutritious food due to its high costs. This has led some generations to prefer unhealthy foods.
Furthermore, since some of the farming and fishing practices are unsustainable, the extent to which these practices can continue to support local food production is limited. Further, it is hard to make a living working within the food system because there has been little to no previous encouragement from the government to change the old ways of production.
Recipe for Successful Implementation
Through continuous dialogue, active participation across all of society and the assignment of a specific task force, the campaign hopes to be successful.