One of the most persistent myths in development is that people linked to traditional lifestyles must be in a process of ‘moving from subsistence to the cash economy’. This expression comes not only from finance agencies (for example, World Bank 1962) but also from analysts with greater sensitivity to livelihoods. Yet the idea neither describes current livelihood realities nor the better future possibilities. Most Papua New Guinean families have engaged in cash economies for many decades, to purchase fuel, supplementary foods, clothing, and school and college fees. Yet this has not reduced the general reliance on family land for basic food, housing, natural medicines and many other needs. In fact, subsistence production and cash economies are both elements of more complex hybrid livelihoods, which are resilient precisely because of their various, adaptive combinations; and their base in Papua New Guinea is in customary land.
In Ritchie, J. & Verso, M. (eds). Securing a prosperous future: Papua New Guinea. Goolwa SA: Crawford Publishing House.