COVID-19 Reinforces the Value of Customary Land in PNG

Market prices in Port Moresby have shot up in recent days, K50 for a medium sized water-melon and K1 for an unripe lemon 

Eddie Tanago

Our customary land is our social safety net, our backbone, our supermarket, our hardware store and our pharmacy, it provides for our sustenance and gives vital cash-incomes to millions of families. Customary land has provided for us and our ancestors since time began.

This morning my usual market run made me think once again about how valuable our customary land is right now.

The famous Gordons Market in the National Capital has seen a huge increase in the prices of fruits and vegetables as supplies run short in the midst of the nationwide COVID-19 State of Emergency. 

With the short supply of vegetables at the market and the ever increasing consumer demand in Port Moresby, the cash incomes available to our nation's farmers have increased even further in recent days.

The uncertainty over our futures, the panic buying and rising prices have also made all of us dwelling in the city, who have to rely on shops and supply chains, who do not have the means to survive independently, to think more than ever about our family homes in the village and what we have given up.

How many of us are wishing that flights were not cancelled and inter-provincial travel not banned so we could still make it home to see out this crisis in the arms of the land that can nurture and sustain us even in the worst of times.