Just outside the front door of Faustina Rehuher-Marugg’s forest home sits a patch of juvenile giant taro, sown at the foot of trees that will eventually fruit coconuts, mangoes and bananas.
Rehuher-Marugg grew up farming with her family in Ngarchelong, Palau’s northernmost state, tending livestock and learning traditional agricultural methods. Having recently finished her tenure as minister of state, she is now back working the land with her family, to feed themselves and sell produce to the public.
“Growing up, we had to do it to survive,” Rehuher-Marugg said. They collected eggs from chickens, fed the cows and pigs and tended the other crops. “So we are used to the land and getting our hands dirty.”
Her agrarian upbringing may not have been exceptional at the time. But now it is. The country’s president told the United Nations General Assembly this year that 80% of his country’s food is imported. Rehuher-Marugg’s knowledge of traditional food systems is something Palau is trying to spread throughout the country, as its food security teeters due to a dependence on imported food.