By Eddie Tanago
Papua New Guinea’s population is growing at an explosive rate, which makes retaining control of customary land vitally important. Customary land is very valuable. It sustains a huge economy and provides employment for 3 million local farmers. Customary land is also vital for food security and it makes people strong and self-reliant.
The 2011 National Census reported PNG’s population to be 7.2 million but at a growth rate of over 2% each year, it has already grown to an estimated 8.3 million. That is a 1.1 million or 15% increase in just 6 years.
By 2030, it is estimated our population will be 10.5 million. That is another increase of 2.2 million or 26% on today’s figure.
By 2050, the population will be 13 million. That is a staggering 4.7 million increase from 2017.
This increase in population cannot go unnoticed by the government.
The government must stop its efforts to register customary land as that opens the door to illegal land deals and land alienation. The government must also stop encouraging and allowing foreign owned industries to take control over customary land.
Our customary land is already very valuable and when we allow outsiders onto our land, whether under the guise of logging, mining, oil palm or other activities, we lose a vital asset; one that is only going to be even more crucial for our children and their children's children.
Retaining control of customary land will help reduce the impacts of PNG’s population explosion by providing a home, food security and employment for our children.