Kwoma - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Kwoma subsist principally on wild sago, which is locally abundant, and the produce of swiddens, including yams, taro, and bananas. Animal protein is provided predominantly by fish. Kwoma do not keep domestic pigs, though pigs and cassowaries are occasionally hunted for food, mainly on ceremonial occasions. The Sepik River region has little economic potential in Western terms. Very few Kwoma earn income from cash crops or other commercial activities. The main cash crop is coffee. In villages, individual families often run small trade stores, selling such goods as batteries, kerosene, and soap.

Division of Labor. In economic activities there is a division of labor between the sexes: men undertake the heaviest tasks such as house building and clearing forest for gardens, while women perform the majority of household duties. But the division is not rigid and men regularly assist with such activities as cooking and the care of children and women with garden clearing and maintenance. Sago processing, the major economic activity, is undertaken by the male and female members of individual households working independently.

Trade. Kwoma villages closest to the Sepik trade with adjacent river villages. Trade is conducted both privately through ties of "friendship" and at regular markets. Kwoma exchange sago and other "bush" products such as betel nuts for fish and currency shells. Trading at markets is conducted by women.

Land Tenure. Land is used mainly for subsistence purposes; the low population density up to now has helped to ensure against pressure on this resource.

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