by Marie Kauna – EMTV Online, Port Moresby
The traditional barter system or exchanging of goods and services in the past was commonly practiced by many areas in Papua New Guinea and was often only way where people got what they didn’t have.
The exchange was purely made possible with the use of garden food, seafood, traditional clay pots and artefacts, however this has over the years changed dramatically. This rich significant knowledge is now slowly fading and will eventually be done away with.
While many have lost this knowledge, there are others who still keep this practice. People of the Kairuku District in Central Province, today, still practice this traditional barter system and make it as part of their weekly activity.
The exchanging takes place in certain areas in the Mekeo villages. The days allocated for this activity are Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Certain villages are chosen and on these days, the Mekeo villages set up and wait for the Roro locals to come along for the exchange.
Fresh harvested garden food, betelnut and mustard are at market for exchanging. In the past these food items were exchanged for seafood from the Roro people. This has changed and today, most garden food, betelnut, mustard and seafood is bought using money. But not all goods are sold for money; there are some that still exchange using the traditional exchanging method.
The practice today continues and takes place weekly. It has become beneficial for the two groups of people and is a significant activity that continues to bind the relationship that was created by the past ancestors of this generation.
The knowledge is passed onto the younger generation and today many young people take part during the activity.