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4 hectares converted in Ngardmau State for project

By Jose Rodriguez T. Senase KOROR (Palau Horizon, Nov. 22, 2010) - A project that will convert 4 hectares of land into a botanical garden and cultural center is underway in Ngardmau State, Palau.

Ngardmau State Governor Akiko Sugiyama, in an interview, said the implementation of the project has been going on for quite some time.

"We are doing it phase-by-phase as we do not have the money to complete it immediately," she stressed. The project is estimated to cost the State nearly US$500,000.

Sugiyama said that workers contracted by the State are already working on the site.

"They are clearing the area and leveling up the slope there," she revealed.

She added that construction of a concrete road leading to and from the site is also ongoing.

Sugiyama revealed that the State already spent around US$40,000 for the project. Part of the money they spent came from a US$30,000 grant extended by the national government

"The money we have is still not enough. We need more funds to build restrooms, fence, and greenhouses where the plants will be housed," she said.

Aside from the botanical garden, a cultural center is also slated to be constructed in the area.

"The project will also include a cultural center that will serve as the venue for various activities and functions," she pointed out.

The governor said they embarked on the project primarily to draw more visitors to the State.

Ngardmau State is one of the most popular destinations in Palau.

Records show that more than a thousand foreign tourists visit the state every month. Majority of these visitors are Japanese, South Koreans, Americans and Taiwanese. The rest come from Germany, Russia, Mexico, Australia, Philippines, New Zealand, France, Netherlands, Britain and other European countries.

"This project is primarily aimed at generating more revenues for the state through tourism," she pointed out.

The governor added that the project is also aimed at bringing more job opportunities to residents of the State, especially young people.

Sugiyama further disclosed that they conceptualized the project with the aim of preserving endemic plant species in the country.

"The garden will feature trees, shrubs, ornamental, medicinal and other kinds of plants that can only be found in Palau," she pointed out.

Those plants include the Ongael, Kirrai, kukiu, delalakar and kelschedui.

Considering the great potential they see in the project, Sugiyama said officials of the State are doing their best to finish it as soon as possible.

She said their target is to finish the project early next year by the first quarter of 2011 everything there will be finished," she said.

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