PNG’s farmers and traditional cuisine took centre stage at one of the world’s major food events last month.
Markham Valley-based non-profit Savé PNG spoke at the Slow Foods (‘Salone del Gusto’) festival in Torino, Italy.
At the event, Savé PNG director Jennifer Waiko was invited to speak on a conference about ‘Indigenous Peoples and Local Food Sovereignty: A struggle for self determination’, where she said the farmers who are severely neglected by the PNG government hold the key to PNG’s economic independence.
“The majority of Papua New Guineas have is the ability to earn a livelihood from the land,” Waiko said. “We have the skills, but we need the training and market opportunities to gain financial independence.
“Political decisions in Papua New Guinea are based on money: that is, on short term aspirations. Make the people financially independent and they will make more choices based on long term aspirations.”
Savé PNG is working to inspire Papua New Guineans to embrace their cultural identity and protect their traditional foodways. They believe that celebrating traditional food is the first step towards community resiliency in the face of health, climate and cultural threats in PNG.
They are currently working on a educational video series called “Cafe Niugini” which explores indigenous cuisines and cultures of Papua New Guinea.
Slow Food is a global movement that aims to “counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions, and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.” At this year’s four-day festival, there were 950 food exhibitors from 130 countries.
Savé PNG’s Bao Waiko is hopeful PNG farmers will be represented at the 2014 Slow Food festival.
“Salone is the perfect opportunity for small local PNG food groups working on agricultural products such as coffee, chocolatecoconut oil, honey, dried fruits and other locally grown and processed products to gain international exposure and recognition”, Bao said.