Em Graun Bilong Mipla, This Is Our Land

5 Apr 2012

In 1998, the people of Saussi in the in the Ramu Valley Madang Province (Papua New Guinea) got word of plans that a sugar & oil palm company, Ramu Agri-Industries, was seeking to expand its oil palm plantations into customary land owned by the Saussi. Led by visionary local level government councilor, Aipapu Marai, the Saussi organized several neighboring communities and formed the Ramu Valley Landowners Association (RVLOA). With very limited financial resources and no legal support, they began a five year battle against Ramu Agri Industries. Armed with information about the negative impacts of oil palm in other provinces and other countries, the Saussi stood firm and told the company and the Papua New Guinea Government that they were not going to allow oil palm on their land. In the words of one of their own: "WE DON'T WANT TO BECOME SLAVES TO THE COMPANY ON OUR OWN LAND." Instead of oil palm, they chose to remain in control of the land and all their resources and make their own money by selling cocoa, watermelons, peanuts and fish. Today, each household earns between USD15,000 and USD25,000 with the women having a significant portion of control over income generation and spending.