by Theckla Gunga – EM TV News, Port Moresby
The registering of Incorporated Landowner Groups under the government’s National Land Development Program, was successful in its pilot project with Kum Kopi Local Level Government in Hagen Central, Western Highlands.
ILG Certificates were presented to Kum Kopi leaders yesterday, giving the locals the legal right to use their customary land as a commodity.
Following this success, the neighbouring LLG’s, have shown interest to register, and later, lease their land.
Kum Kopi is home to over 6,000 people, and although it is a mere kilometre’s drive from provincial capital, Mount Hagen, the LLG lacks basic road and health facilities.
The LLG has a small economy, and most locals are subsistence farmers who grow and sell mainly sweet potatoes, amongst other vegetables.
Yesterday over 4,000 men, women and children gathered to witness the certification of their LLG as the first LLG in Papua New Guinea that can legally use their land as a commodity.
For the locals, the receiving of the certificate marks a new chapter for their emerging economy. It gives them the legal right to engage in business and generate income through the use of their land.
When presenting the certificate, National Research Institute Director, Dr Charles Yala, explained its benefits.
Dr Yala said, the certificate empowers locals to improve their lifestyle through money they earn.
He said, NLDP team has done their part in certifying the LLG and it is now up to the locals to turn their land into an income source.
Former NRI Director and a Kum Kopi local, Dr. Thomas Webster, thanked the people for collaborating with the NLDP team and congratulated them for meeting the ILG requirement and getting their certificate.
Over two months was spent in carrying out awareness and Registrar of ILG’s, Iruna Rogakila, presented the ILG certificate including an ILG Code Conduct to village counsellor, Peter Raim.
Registrar Rogakila explained that ILG members who fail to meet the code of conduct are subjected to the law, and will go to jail for a period of over six months.