Archive for September, 2012

By Malum Nalu (The National, September, 13 2012)

 

The energy and enthusiasm of young couple Max Puritau and his wife Stefi Temelloso at the PNG Made Expo at the PNG Advantage investment conference at the Gateway Hotel earlier this week won the admiration of many visitors to their booth.

Puritau – at the ripe old age of 25 – has taken over running the family company, Paradise Spices, from his father, Micky, and now exports PNG vanilla, chilli, pepper, galip nut, cardamom, tumeric, nutmeg, cocoa nibs, ginger, cinnamon, virgin coconut oil, and pure vanilla extract to many countries around the world. Paradise Spices also produces its own brand of bottled water – Life — which is sold in major supermarkets in PNG.

The company buys raw material from provinces around the country — from chilli and cardamom in Chimbu, galip nuts in Milne Bay, to vanilla in Western, which it processes at its factory in Gordon for export and domestic supply.

“In April this year, I bought off the business from dad,” Puritau, who was groomed by his father in the business, says. “I own 50% of the company now. My mum owns the other 50%. So, basically, I’m the sole working director now. I’m currently working with my wife, Steffi Temelloso, who is also the operations manager and the sales and marketing manager.”

The history of Paradise Spices goes back some 20 years ago in the Puritau’s village in Lalaura, Abau, Central, when founder Micky Puritau ventured into mango farming. “We started in mango farming and exported to Taiwan,” the younger Puritau said. “That all started from Lalaura in the Abau district of Central. “That was until there was a court case with the village people. They actually took him to court but he won the court case and got the land that was argued about.

“About 2ha of that land is now used for vanilla growing. We get our vanilla supplies from there when we are short. It produces about 500kg of vanilla beans every six months.”

Puritau says he is adding a completely new approach to the company with his youth and enthusiasm. “The basic idea of the whole business now is to try and create new products using PNG-grown crops. Currently, we are buying and selling vanilla beans, bird’s eye chilli, galip nuts, white pepper, cardamom, turmeric, nutmeg, cocoa nibs, ginger, cinnamon, and virgin coconut oil. We also have a new range of purified water in 500ml bottles and the vanilla extract.” Paradise Spices’ plant is at Varahe Street in Gordon.

“This is for the vanilla extract market overseas,” Puritau explains. “What we’ve done is we’ve brought the overseas market into PNG. So, in this case, PNG can manufacture and produce vanilla extract for the world out there.

“The whole range of products are brought locally and manufactured and processed here in Gordon. So, if you see our Paradise Spices packet out there, you might at first think that it’s from overseas, but it’s made here in PNG.

“We export to New Zealand, Australia, USA, Taiwan, Japan, and other smaller areas as well. The market now is 80% export and 20% local retail. There’s a buyer in Australia who wants three tonnes of chilli a month. However, it’s unfortunate that we can’t meet this demand.”

Puritau says the bottled water was first produced in 2009 and is now sold to Tabubil and various shops and supermarkets around Port Moresby. “It’s only in its second year of production,” he says. “The water is purified and produced at our factory in Gordon. We currently sell only in 500ml bottles and will introduce a one-litre bottle as soon as the demand increases.”

Puritau is proud of what he is doing to help village people of PNG. However, he urges the government to step in by way of improved infrastructure. “What I’m doing is I’m helping the village people,” he says. “I have ‘Made in PNG’ on our packaging.

“I’d like to see better infrastructure. Our problem is lack of supply because of lack of logistics such as infrastructure: meaning, villagers live in innermost areas and can’t bring their produce to market. They produce heaps and heaps, enough for us to fill containers and supply the world, however, they can’t bring their produce to market. For example, seven out of 10 chilli farmers can’t bring their produce out to market because of bad roads, no access to vehicles, infrastructure.

“I’d also like to see export rebate and assistance from the government to our company.”

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Via Vanuatu Daily Post

The pilot study report “Alternative Indicators of Well-being for Melanesia” was launched at the Chiefs’ Nakamal on Thursday. The study is a joint report of the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs, Vanuatu National Statistics Office, and Vanuatu Kaljarol Senta (VKS). It has been endorsed twice by leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

Jamie Tanguay, co-ordinator of the project to establish indicators for well-being in Melanesia, started his presentation by explaining the need to change the way progress is measured in Melanesia.

On the one hand, Vanuatu is regarded as a Least Developed Country (LDC). The broad criteria involved in being awarded LDC status are low gross national income: we are down at 141 on the World Bank’s latest listings. Then there is “weak human assets”. With a labour force of less than 100,000 and only 30% of the country receiving secondary education, we are definitely weak. And then there is economic vulnerability, and especially for Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Earthquakes and natural disasters like cyclones also bring us down to LDC level. That said, LDC countries tend to be typified by war, genocide, disease, starvation, homelessness, pollution and lack of clean water. We have none of those.

And on the other hand, the New Economics Foundation and Lonely Planet have seen fit to describe Vanuatu as the ‘Happiest Country in the World’.

Jamie Tanguay emphasizes that for far too long economists have used income and expenditure patterns to paint a picture of a society’s well-being. “We have failed to develop an international standard for measuring well-being.”

He continues: Vanuatu is lucky. Because Vanuatu still has a vibrant traditional economy that has served it well for thousands of years. It has supported a population several times larger than the present one with enough healthy organic food for all men, women, and children, and continues to do so for most ni-Vanuatu today. It supported living conditions for extended family units – with housing, cooking and sanitation facilities – supported community organization by providing places for congregation and interaction, and continues to do so for most ni-Vanuatu today. The traditional economy is culture. It is how society organizes itself to provide for the livelihoods of its members.

In Vanuatu:
• 79% of ni-Vanuatu have access to customary lands (92% of those living in rural areas).
• 90% of ni-Vanuatu know their customary land boundaries.
• 88% of people feel they have enough or more than enough customary land to meet their needs.
• 95% of people with access to customary lands make their homes and grow food for personal consumption on that land.
And all that is just for a start.

Jamie Tanguay knows the Vanuatu economy to be different to one based on cash. It has been the task of his team of economists and statisticians to establish the values that count most in Vanuatu. They reached to the furthest corners of the country (where people are clearly more happy than their cousins in Port Vila and Santo). Nevertheless, Ni-Vanuatu decision makers, says Tanguay, “risk steering their country in a direction guided by Western values and not the professed Melanesian values they once vowed to uphold at the time of Independence.”

True Melanesian values were the basis of discussions amongst many groups of people. These values went far beyond land and resource access. Cultural practice and community vitality were important. The outlook of women and church leaders had also to be considered. And ceremonial activity was also critical.

“Perhaps the most intriguing finding from this study on ni-Vanuatu well-being is that of TORBA Province, the northern most province in the country with the lowest GDP per capita and least access to markets…in effect the most ‘economically handicapped’ and, coincidentally, the Province with the highest subjective well-being (or, happiness) of any other province by a significant amount,” Jamie Tanguay said. “It is also the province with the highest perceived equality, highest levels of trust in neighbors, most positive assessment of traditional leaders, highest rates of community interaction, and the list goes on.”

The VKS production unit have also made an excellent film which to be made available as DVD and made available for public viewings toward the end of September.

The PDF of the full report is now available for download through the VNSO website  here.

 

By Claire

Development is a big word. It essentially depends on who is selling and who’s buying the idea of ‘development’.

Most of us have bought what the ‘the others’ define as development: going to formal school; getting a degree or masters or whatever paper it is that says you are qualified enough to have an opinion that is worth getting paid for on a particular subject; the acquiring a job where what you get paid is more than what you need, so you can buy what you DON’T need to show others who care about the same petty things. Fast flashy cars, big houses, designer clothes, latest electronic gadgets etc.

There was a time in my life where I cared and sought for all those petty things.  The clothes, the hair, the shoes, the nails, the bags, the phones, the movies and all those things that Marie Claire, Hello!, Elle, Blackbeat, Dolly and Girlfriend told me were ‘must haves for this season’ (seriously, ‘seasons’ in tropical Papua New Guinea?!) Jeez! I cringe whenever I have a conversation about childhood dreams with my cousins (we’re Bougainvillian), who compared to me were so practical, noble and unselfish. Although I’m glad I went through that cringe-worthy phase.

I was in the midst of all the pettiness that ‘the others’ perceive as modern/developed/cool. So many words to describe something so plastic and SO fragile that all you need is a week back in a place where your survival depends on what you do and then, you realize what a façade all those so-called important things are.

At the end of the day what we want most out of life is to be happy! Happiness is that ever-elusive kudo, that nirvana, the heaven that we all strive for. AND the truth is ‘the must haves for this season’, the iPhones, the ‘skinnies’, the Nikes, the ‘bling’ do not make up this ‘happiness’.

Happiness and Development. Supposedly synonymous states. Both are states that we allude to and want to obtain, we want to be happy and we want to be developed.

I can honestly say that I witnessed both these states co-existing in perfect tropical bliss on these two tiny island nations called Fiji and the Cook Islands.

Viti Levu. From one end of the island to other the things that ‘the others’ allude to when they speak of development: education, health services, law and order; these things can all be found from Nadi to Suva. Furthermore the capital of Fiji (Suva) has, in my opinion, the perfect mix of modern convenience and traditional lifestyle.

Rarontonga. Breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful! The stuff that all tropical island getaway dreams are made of. You know, the white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, swaying coconut palms and clean quaint yards with their neatly arranged neighbourhoods. Perfectly planned towns and all citizens taken care of.

At first I carried myself like a true Mosbi (Port Moresby) person. I watched my back, held onto my bag tightly, made note of who bumped me and was ever vigilant to make sure no-one took a swipe at my bilum. After a few hours it hit me that no one looked like they were protectively hugging their bags and lo and behold! There were no fences!

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m naïve, but in my opinion happiness is something you feel when you are doing what you should; when ou should; for who you should at the moments they matter.

Happiness isn’t consistent – that isn’t humanly possible. People you care about die, people you care about hurt you, people you care about move away, people you care about don’t care about you. But if you remember your sadness and pain more clearly than your happiness surely that must mean the happiness happens often enough for it not to be memorable unlike the sadness.

I’ve digressed. Back to the point. Happiness and Development. I saw both of these in Viti Levu and Rarotonga. The thing about happiness and being able to enjoy modern conveniences, functioning government services (health, law and justice, education) AND having extra money to spend is that you don’t NEED mining projects, or plantations, or agricultural projects, logging or anything that is alien to our culture to achieve this. Development if it means all these mining projects, plantations, agricultural projects and logging will not bring happiness. Maybe it’s time we stopped buying ‘DEVELOPMENT’ and start making Progress – doing it OUR way.

Then we might remember that we ARE happy without these big mining projects, plantations, agricultural projects, logging and other alien million dollar operations. Those alien operations don’t equate to happiness but doing what should be done, at the correct moment, with and to the correct people does bring that ever-elusive kudo, that nirvana, closer and produces varying degrees of happiness.

(This is an edited extract taken from the Masalai Blog. The full post can be read here. )

“O’Neill has the challenge to define our separate path as a people and as a nation, not to allow us to disintegrate into a dependant economic basket case. He has to ensure we do not become an enclave of resource extraction, leaving behind polluted oceans and scarred landscapes, of an equally scarred and soul-less people, helpless, confused and poverty stricken, devoid of any real idea of who we are and where we are headed.”

IN AN Olympic year, we are once again contemplating playing host to the next South Pacific Games and the government (especially the previous O’Neill-Namah government) has not been serious about what is and what ought to have been a matter of priority and pride to prepare necessary infrastructure for the event. The nation is about to face its moment of truth on the regional and international stage but we are way behind in our preparations, and so far treated this event as a political afterthought.

Our lack of preparations must necessarily be viewed as a measure of our own awareness and pride in ourselves. It is a measure of the way we have gone off-course in terms of focussing our people and our leaders on matters other than that of national interest and national importance. It is a measure of the way we have lost our way as a nation, preoccupied with politics, the demands of enclave type developments like the LNG, and forgotten about being a country, about nationhood, and about what the national interest requires of us. It is a measure of the way we have lost our own sovereignty in favour of serving others’ interests, including personal interests.

Who would have predicted how we would turn out as a nation and a people in 1973 when we were granted self-government so hurriedly by the Gorton/Whitlam Governments of Canberra? In the early 70s on the occasion of a South Pacific Commission Meeting held in the capital of one of our Polynesian countries, the Paramount Chief of the Chimbu people, Chief Kondom Agaunduo stood up and spoke. Whenever he spoke in his native setting, multitudes of tribes men far and near came and drank of his words in utter silence, words that echoed like a thousand waterfalls and flowed seamlessly like the Waghi, giving life to a deeply farrowed land.

But this time, his solemn maiden Chiefly address to the South Pacific Commission in Tok Pisin was openly mocked. Perhaps it was because he didn’t understand a word of English and could not speak any. Perhaps it was because they couldn’t understand him at all with his typical highlands big-manly animations. Chief Kondom felt the mocking laughter deeply, like the bitter stings of a thousand wasps buzzing around his head. He couldn’t speak English. Realizing, from the laughter and the polite nods that he had just become the laughing stock of the Pacific, and realizing he carried with him not only the pride of the Narengu tribe of Chimbu, but also the pride of history of his fathers and that of the then Territories of Papua and New Guinea he represented, Kondom Agaunduo slowly raised his hand as if to brush the wafting wasps away, allowed the laughter to subside, and spoke in slow deliberate Pisin and uttered those famous lines: “Yupela harim ah! Nau mi kam long hia na toktok na yupela lap long mi. Em I orait. Tomoro bai mi salim ol pikinini bilong mi i kam. Taim ol I kam, bai yupela ino nap lap long ol! “ With that he sat down, and never spoke again.

Chief Kondom was a man before his time. He was a Chief and Luluai, a cultural hero who brought progress to Chimbu in the early colonial period. He was the first Simbu coffee grower, father of the Chimbu Coffee Cooperative, Member of the District Advisory Council, Observer to the First Legislative Council in Port Moresby. Before his premature death from a car accident, he was truly a pioneer who craved education and progress for his people so that they could meet or match the whiteman, a man without pigs, on his own terms, and triumph. He was resolute and uncompromising in this cause. His leadership, punctuated by long eloquent speeches, was impeccable. There was no ounce of self interest in his cause. His cause was that of every Chimbu to advance.

In the 2012 elections, more so than ever before, the Australian Defence and intelligence played a very heavy hand, and made no secret about the fact of who Canberra wants installed as the new Prime Minister. On the 2nd of August 2011, Australia engineered the disposal of Somare while he was in Hospital.  Then when the courts were called upon to intervene by a Supreme Court Reference, Julia Gillard used a political bulldozer to smash down the gates of our Judicial system and our Constitution, by openly recognizing Peter O’Neill as Prime Minister. She pre-empted the Supreme Court, the sole arbiter under the Constitution to deal with the then pending question of legitimacy of Peter ONeill as Prime Minister.

Australia has always advocated the importance of the rule of law, and the importance of having an independent judiciary as the backstop of our democracy in Papua New Guinea. Except on this occasion Australia threw all that out the window. When it suited Australia’s strategic economic and political purposes, even the ideals of rule of law, governance, transparency, accountability and principles of democratic government were readily flushed down the toilet by Australia. Prior to and during the elections, Australia moved its people into key positions within the Electoral Commission, and even brought in its military and SAS veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan to run a separate communications and operations capability parallel to the PNG security forces. All this was done to ensure one result- Peter ONeill to form the next government. They made sure O’Neill knew he was under the Australian army protection, and that he owed his rather “unusual landslide election win” to them.

The charms of money, wealth, fame and more fortune now whisper incessantly like cicadas in Peter O’Neill’s ears. The real question is, does he have what it takes, and can he stand up for the red gold and black? Or will he be just another good native?

The signs are already fairly ominous of a sell-out job done by Peter O’Neill. He needs these next 18 months to prove to the rest of us that he is a true nationalist, and better at negotiating competing interests and triumphing over those who want to turn him and his office into their own Post Office Box. He has 18 months to show us that he is the Prime Minister of PNG and not Julia Gillard’s rubber stamp of Australian cross-interests in this country.

He will have to do better than he has done so far to show us that our lives and our resources are safe from the marauding corporate raiders who are crowding his social calendar even now. He has to demonstrate that the mothers of Bougainville who lost their sons fighting for their land and resources have not died in vain. He has to show us that the blood of the innocent spilled on Bougainville was for a cause of equal worth, and that indeed he will use this term of Prime Minister-ship to initiate a ministry of healing of the nation, to reconcile us as brother to brother, that our blood can flow through our veins once again from one heartbeat. He has to, like Jerry Singirok did, honour the oath he took before God and man under our Constitution to protect our people and the national interest.

Peter O’Neill must know what the national interest calls for in every case, and must summon the courage like Singirok did, and honour the national interest in everything confronting the nation today, not just in respect of Bougainville (although Bougainville ought to be high priority on our nation’s list of “unfinished business”). O’Neill has the challenge to define our separate path as a people and as a nation, not to allow us to disintegrate into a dependant economic basket case. He has to ensure we do not become an enclave of resource extraction, leaving behind polluted oceans and scarred landscapes, of an equally scarred and soul-less people, helpless, confused and poverty stricken, devoid of any real idea of who we are and where we are headed.

Does Peter O’Neill have the smarts to really serve the national interest, or will be just another drunken politician, pandering to his mates, and the sharks and vultures already circling around and above the nation looking to extract our resources and leave us bare? Does he have what it takes to not only give us cause to celebrate and showcase our nation in the coming games, but show those sharks and vultures that circle him; that he is a nationalist, that this is the land of an ancient and free people, a people of pride, strength and culture and he will serve the national interest above all else? That we will not be bought or sold for political or economic convenience? That the birth place of the Melanesian nations- the heart and soul of Melanesia is not for sale?

This is Peter O’Neill’s greatest challenge as Prime Minister today, as the wolves are no longer at the gates huffing and puffing, they are in his living room, in and under his bed, and at his table. It is therefore incumbent on other leaders to also stand up for this nation, just as the former Governor for Morobe did, to rule a line in the sand, and tell the hordes that prey on our people and their Leaders, to stay outside the line, and clarify their wish lists. Australia has proven that it cannot be trusted to secure our Constitution, our Judiciary and our democracy according to principles of rule of law. Australia has proven its ability to openly manipulate our politics and our institutions to serve its own interests. Australia is only here to serve its economic and strategic interests, and we cannot blame it for that, as long as our leaders wake up from their deep slumber and protect our own National Interests.

If he fails and sells us cheap to the Australian and other interests (and there are many signs already that he will), then that will be his legacy. If he becomes the convenient conduit to allow Australians to crush our heart and soul as a people, future generations will not forgive him, and all the labour of our forefathers and the fathers of our Constitution have laboured in vain.  Our Laws, our Constitution and our Parliamentary system were adopted from England. We must not lose sight of our own origins both as a people and as a modern nation State.

Those with wish lists in bed with O’Neill must be made to define and measure them against clearly stated interests of the nation. If these interests are not defined, and made subservient to the national interests by our elected leaders, then the wolves will definitely eat us. Before we realize what is going on, ONeill will have successfully sold our people and the national interest down the river, and he will have sailed into the sunset with his gains, and we will be left to ponder what really went wrong as we struggle as a soul-less nation to live with the manacles of economic slavery, control and poverty he placed us under. God forbid that this should happen!