Led by visionary local level government councilor, Aipapu Marai, the Saussi people of Papua New Guinea organized several neighboring communities and formed the Ramu Valley Landowners Association (RVLOA). With very limited financial resources and no legal support, they began a five year battle against Ramu Agri Industries’ plan to expand its oil palm operations into their customary lands. Armed with information about the negative impacts of oil palm in other provinces and other countries, the Saussi stood firm and told the company and the PNG Government that they were not going to allow oil palm on their land.
Instead of oil palm, they chose to remain in control of the land and their resources and make their own money by selling cocoa, watermelons, peanuts and fish. Today, each household earns between US$15,000 and US$25,000 with the women having a significant portion of control over income generation and spending.