The Ways Of The Enga

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The Ways of the Enga

The Ways of the Enga


Enga Province lies at the drainage centre of the eastern half of the New Guinea Island. People have been living there for at least 12,000 years and perhaps for much longer than that. People of Enga (Mae) have maintained relations with their non-Enga neighbors for centuries including marriages, sharing of rituals and economic exchanges (Bailey 2001)

Man has had, and continues to have, an important influence on the Enga environment. This influence is not always immediately harmful, but it is true to say that natural resources (for example forest and soils) are being depleted at a time when a growing population demands more land. At the least people are substantially altering the appearance of the Enga landscape. By the end of 2005, the population of Enga province exceeded 200,000. There are only approximately 4400 people living above 2600 meters in Enga Province, and most of them live below the upper limit for subsistence gardening that are about 2800 meters except in favored areas (Bailey 2001).

Primary mode of subsistence

Research indicates that horticulturalists were active in Enga since 2000 years ago, and probably earlier than that. The people were and still are subsistence gardeners. They have an intensive system of production that utilizes labor, basic tools and effective techniques to grow sweet potatoes, bananas, sugarcane, beans and various leaf greens. Since 1960s, some of major products of the cultivators are coffee, potatoes and orchids. The domestic pig provides the majority of meat, required in the daily diet and pork and pigs to use as presents on festive occasions like marriages, illnesses, and deaths. People of Enga also keep goats, sheep and buffalo but it has little commercial significance (Bailey 2001).

Everyone in Enga has a strong attachment to the land and resources. Subsistence activities consist of the utilization of wild resources; all are agricultural. Farming system of Enga is dependent on sweet potato, which is considered as a subsistence crop. It is presumed to have been introduced from the America via the Philippines and Indonesia during the seventeenth century. The staple crop and sweet potatoes are cultivated in Enga in a concentrated structure to feed large human and pig's population. Since that time, agriculture area has been expanded and a considerable amount of steep land is cultivated under a humid tropical mountain climate; these areas have considerable natural instability. But few of the citizens are diverging from their primary reliance on vegetable products to cultivate one root crop that is sweet potatoes, supplemented by other vegetable crops. In the future, however, this isolation is not going to last because these lower altitude areas are seen by the average Enga and his politicians, as being desirable areas for expansion and development for both subsistence and for a cash-crop economy (Sillitoe 2006).

It has been observed that women are more engaged in subsistence farming than men, though the distinction between men and women in participation of exchange is not so ...