Land and livelihoods in Papua New Guinea (2015)

A slow motion drama is in play in Melanesia, above all in Papua New Guinea, where the ‘omissions’ of the colonial era are being addressed by neo-colonial forces. The economic interest of the big powers has its focus on land – always a key resource but increasingly valuable in times of multiple food, financial, energy and ecological crises. Continue reading “Land and livelihoods in Papua New Guinea (2015)”

Land and livelihood economics in Papua New Guinea – Shifting the paradigm (2014)

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. Continue reading “Land and livelihood economics in Papua New Guinea – Shifting the paradigm (2014)”

Melanesian customary land and hybrid livelihoods (2010)

Community land was at the root of indigenous survival and social relations until colonial regimes enforced dispossession. Yet, as if by an accident of history, the countries of Melanesia (and particularly Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) largely escaped this fate. To this day, the great majority of land in these countries is still held by communities and families under a customary law which is neither written down nor centrally registered. Continue reading “Melanesian customary land and hybrid livelihoods (2010)”

Land reform in Timor Leste: Why the constitution is worth defending (2010)

International aid agencies have moved into the land debate in Timor Leste, at a time when controversy rages over proposed leases of large tracts of land to foreign biofuel companies and a proposed new land law. The leases, and their potential alienation of agricultural land, were initiated in the middle of a serious food crisis, when the AMP government was financing a number of private contracts for rice import and distribution – themselves subject to corruption claims. Continue reading “Land reform in Timor Leste: Why the constitution is worth defending (2010)”

Women roadside sellers in Madang (2008)

A survey of women roadside sellers in Madang Province of Papua New Guinea found that they earn a weighted average income of more than three times the national minimum wage. The relative economic success of these roadside vendors relies to a large extent on access to good-quality customary land and proximity to major roads. Continue reading “Women roadside sellers in Madang (2008)”

On the economic value of customary land in Papua New Guinea (2006)

In discussing the economic value of customary land in Papua New Guinea, we must recognise the ongoing polemic over land use. Much of this debate is driven by special interest groups seeking access to customary land. Customary landowners in Papua New Guinea, on the other hand, have been mostly well served by their system of custodianship. The practical question, however, is whether small-scale landowners are able to pursue the best income-generating opportunities while holding onto the various social and subsistence advantages provided by their customary lands? Continue reading “On the economic value of customary land in Papua New Guinea (2006)”

Valuation and registration of customary land in Papua New Guinea (2006)

This paper considers what an opportunity cost valuation of customary land can tell us about the pressures for land registration in Papua New Guinea. The discussion here presents a historical perspective on land registration, introduces land disputes and land markets in PNG, explains an opportunity cost valuation of land, and then suggest ways in which such valuations can help us interpret the processes of land registration. Calculations on the economic value of customary land draws on data from pilot surveys of land use in two provinces (Madang and Oro). Continue reading “Valuation and registration of customary land in Papua New Guinea (2006)”