Customary Land Bringing in thousands of Kina – Govt needs to step up

“Cocoa is raining cash in Sepik”! was the proclamation by Governor for East Sepik Allan Bird on his social media page. 

He went on to say that the growth in his province’s economy will be built by ordinary village people earning a decent income and paying taxes when spending money on goods and services.  

Governor Bird also proudly displayed the receipt from a farmer who sold 8 bags of cocoa and received K6 763.15 in cash.

In 2020, the farmer had spent only K1000 in purchasing materials and seedlings. He planted 1 080 cocoa trees on his own land in his village. 

In 2022 he made a total income of K4, 603. This year, he has made a total of K22 616. 

This story tells us of the potential of what our land can offer us. 

There are two points highlighted in this post;

  1. Do not sell customary land
  2. Government should refocus its development to one that’s people centered. 

Do not sell customary land 

The utilization of customary land “free of charge” has seen the man gained more than K20 000 for his household. 

Having that financial freedom or capacity allows him to improve his family’s standard of living or purchase some of life comforts such as a permanent house, water tanks, electricity (solar) etc. 

The man from East Sepik will make money for the rest of his life, as Bird puts it, by just planting and up keeping the cocoa trees. 

The man did NOT need any ILG certification or land registration to become a successful business person. All he needed was an initial investment and clearance of a small piece of his land. 

In PNG, the real economy based on customary land provides more employment for more people than the widely promoted false formal economy. The real economy generates K40 billion per year compared to the K20 billion generated by the formal economy that’s dominated by foreign owned corporations whose profits are banked in off shore accounts.

Government should refocus its development to one that’s people centered. 

While Governor Birds post is encouraging to the farmers, the Government needs to step up in providing the necessary services that will help the farmers successfully toil their land, plant the seeds, look after the crops and sell the produce. It is the role of the government to provide extension services, fund infrastructure and create market for the people.

The Marape Government currently emphasizes the need for more agricultural investment to increase commodity exports to bring in more foreign currencies with more monies circulating in the economy and helps to promote locally owned business.

The government too must stop forcing Papua New Guineans to free up customary land for foreigners to exploit. Customary land sustains 7 million people with food, shelter and a sense of identity.

Customary land saves communities from starvation and hunger and provides security.

The real promises of development can be found when people are empowered to be masters of their own, Papua New Guineans cannot be ridden off their land to foreign own corporations like the mining and logging who are profit driven and disempowers locals.

The Government must also make sure that basic health and education services reach local communities.

All of these contributes to a happy, healthy and wealthy society as envisioned in the Vision 2050.