BETEL nut grows on a tropical palm tree.
It is deeply rooted in Papua New Guinea’s culture and life style since the time of our ancestors.
It has turned into an informal cash crop in this modern society that we live in today.
Prohibiting people from chewing betel nut will be a far challenging and problematic.
The Joint Task Force Agency for the National Operation Centre of Covid-19 is facing this issue in mitigating Covid-19 in this country.
The ban on betel nut trading is suppressing people in the informal economy sector who rely on it.
They rely on betel-nut trade as a way of income. Preventive measures to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 should not complicate the social, financial and cultural wellbeing of citizens in this country.
It must be an applicable approach that coincides with the people’s way of life.
On the health perspective, disinfect betel nuts and mustards from bacteria by dipping them into hot water before selling or chewing.
This kills harmful bacteria and other substances.
The betel nut trade has adapted a well-known nickname – Green Gold – because of the fast income it earns in the informal sector.
Betel nut shares the same fate as cigarette manufacturing companies.
I urge the MPs not to rely heavily on the Government’s recovery budget for stimulating the economic.
Instead improvise on the already established informal betel nut trade.
Relax the ban on this demanding crop in order to assist people in this trying time.
The vast population rely on betel nut trade for survival.
The president of Micro Small Medium Enterprise (MSME) Council Desmond Yaninen, in The National on May 8 (Page 32) said: “The betel nut industry can contribute K500 million into the government coffers through the Goods and Service Tax”.
He stated that the value of the informal sector is K12 billion a year.
Therefore, if it is K1.5 million in betel nut trade in Port Moresby alone then the betel nut trade in the country might be as high as K5 million. The hypothesis by Yaninen should be further researched and analysed by the National Research Institute and other relevant Government authorities.
A report of the findings should be submitted to the government to pave the way to regulate betel nut trade and make it a formal commercial cash crop in Papua New Guinea.
I urge the Gulf Governor, Kairuku-Hiri MP, Kerema MP, Central Governor, Moresby North East MP, Moresby North West, Moresby South and the NCD Governor to work together in addressing the issue of betel nut trading.
The selling of betel nut is one way unemployed citizens can earn an income and support their families.
Michael Trawanga, Jr