Sepiks celebrate agriculture and art

Weekender
COVER STORY
East Sepik Governor Allan Bird’s wife Joanne seen walking around the Somare Stadium during the event
A lass from the Maribangu cultural group of Yamuk village entering the main arena.

By GYNNIE KERO
AGRICULTURE, arts, music and sports are the main areas the East Sepik administration is keen on promoting.
Administrator Dr Clement Malau recently outlined these when announcing Oct 28 as the Sepik Day.
Malau said the set date would be celebrated by Sepik people right across the country.
He then urged the local administrations and government to work together with the private sector in promoting and protecting cultural values.
I must say I was amazed by the efforts from the private sector led by Chris Karis in driving the agenda.
Took a recent trip to Wewak (East Sepik), in time to witness a two days event hosted at the almost deteriorating Somare Stadium. It requires constant upkeep.
All six districts involved
Representation was from almost all six districts; Wewak, Angoram, Yangoru-Saussia, Maprik, Wosera-Gawi and Ambunti-Dreikikir.
The six districts of the province were then divided into three areas; Sepik Blue (islands/sea), Sepik Green (hinterlands) and Sepik Brown (Sepik River) to participate in the recent show.
East Sepik has about 275 languages out of the 800 plus languages spoken by different tribes in the country.
The province has a rich culture which has to be promoted and protected.
Famous basket and bilum weavers, as well as carvers live along the banks of the great Sepik River. The weaving skill is something that has been passed on for generations.
Architecture
The haus tambarans (spirit houses) are common to both river and hinterland tribes. Architectural styles vary but the high forward leading prow of the Maprik area is the most well-known. Some are huge, standing on great carved piles.
Sepik River cruises have been the mainstay of tourism in the province.
The two days event ended on Saturday with lots of activities.
East Sepik has a rural economy of subsistence agriculture and cash crops of coffee, cocoa, copra, vanilla and rubber.
Vanilla and cocoa in particular have become the main income earners for households and the provincial government.
In August this year Prime Minister James Marape launched a European Union funding grant of K340 million for small holder farmers in East Sepik.
This followed the signing of the Enterprise Development Fund (EDF) earlier this year.
The EDF is funding of a small pilot programme in PNG which creates enterprises for smallholder vanilla and cocoa farmers of East and West Sepik.
Marape said that the project was important and that no politics would be involved in it.
Agriculture
He told the people of East Sepik to go back to their villages and work the land.
“Our (government’s) job is to build roads and other infrastructure to buy your produce.
“We will find the market, as agriculture in the province is of great potential. In the next 10 years, we aim to bring more buyers of the vanilla and cocoa into the country,” he said.
“Agriculture is of economic importance to the people of this country (and) this project is important and this launch will see us branch out to other provinces besides East and West Sepik.”
The cocoa project and ongoing work by Vanilla farmers in the province will in a few years, make East Sepik a leading agricultural producer in PNG.
And that would be all the more reason to celebrate the provincial day in years ahead.
I’m certainly looking forward to the 2020 Sepik Day – Oct 28!
Mark that in your dairy!

Provincial administrator Dr Clement Malau (left) watching the performances during the two-day show. – Nationalpics by GYNNIE KERO

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