THE villagers of Liluta, Kaibola and Dayagila in the Trobriand Islands, Milne Bay province, are not starving or dying from malnutrition as reported, Kiriwina LLG president Jennifer Rudd said yesterday.
Ms Rudd said there were instances of food shortages, mostly the staple yams and yam seedlings for the new gardens.
She told reporters in Port Moresby yesterday that Trobriand Islanders were eating well but being forced to substitute their staple with bananas, tapiocas, sweet potatoes (kaukau) and taros.
Ms Rudd said the yam shortage was due, to poor soil content and early harvest of the gardens which caused poor yield.
She said this resulted in next season’s yam seedlings been eaten, eventually leading to the yam shortage.
Over the generations, yam had been the mainstay of the Trobriand Islanders’ culture and traditional norms.
Ms Rudd said through their intricate network system throughout the islands, the islanders had always made sure that no communities go hungry.
“We help each other out with food and other supplies.”
She said her LLG had presented petitions and reports to the administration and provincial government for temporary relief, mainly supply of rice to the most affected villages and supply of yam seedlings to replenish their depleted replanting stock.
Ms Rudd’s deputy Anselom Giyomata said there were studies underway which would eventually lead to the import of volcanic ash to help revitalise the soil.
Ms Rudd said it was only in the past 10 years that the shift in the social and economic values of the people had declined in the traditional yam gardening and traditional gains like status to modern monetary gains.