To market, to market in Papua New Guinea


Nicola Gage and Grace Maribu visit some of Papua New Guinea’s major markets.

Mount Hagen market. Credit: Robert Upe

If you’re looking for a snapshot of daily life in PNG, the best place to start is a local market. Before dawn breaks, the trucks begin transporting fresh produce in for the day. Agriculture remains the largest employer of Papua New Guineans, with about 80 per cent of the population still practising some form of subsistence farming, and there is huge growth potential. Here we take a closer look at what’s happening on the ground in some of the markets around the country.

Boroko Market, Port Moresby

Monday to Saturday, 7.30am to 5pm

Around the corner from Port Moresby’s National Football Stadium, this market on Bisini Parade in Boroko is relatively new. Hundreds of workers, including farmers from Sogeri and Magi, sell a diverse range of local fruit and vegetables. There’s a large security presence on the ground and stalls seem orderly and structured. Female vendors say it’s a safe place to work and prices are reasonable. I would say this is one of the best local markets in Port Moresby, not only because of the quality of produce sold but also the safety aspect.

‘Kokopo Market may be PNG’s cleanest and safest market.’

Koki Fish Market, Port Moresby

Daily, 6am to 6pm

If you’re looking for the best catch of the day in Port Moresby, the Koki fish market is the place to go. Perched on the edge of the water on Healy Road, just along from Ela Beach, it’s the main fresh seafood market in town, with produce ranging from mud crab and lobster to tuna, red emperor, garfish and eel. Wander the aisles and chat with local fishermen, who bring their catch in each morning. It’s a bustling environment filled with colour and life, and worth a visit just for the atmosphere.

‘With its covered roof and design that includes a central courtyard, the market is a peaceful haven for people wanting to escape the heat and noisiness of Kokopo.’

Lae Market

7am to 3.30pm

Lae’s main market is one of the region’s best, known for its taros and bananas, for which Morobe Province is renowned. The market has a huge variety of garden produce, harvested from the gardens of rural Morobeans and Highlanders who travel down from the Eastern and Western Highlands provinces. Live chickens and ducks are also sold here, along with flower seeds and seedlings. A craft section has been added recently, where you can find handicrafts and handmade jewellery of many kinds.

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Madang Market

Monday to Saturday, 7am to 5pm

Right in the middle of Madang town and within walking distance of hotels (Madang Resort, Madang Star International and Coastwatchers) is Madang market, a lively venue known for its bilums, fresh garden produce and smoked fish. The market has recently undergone a major upgrade and is ordered into sections under a covered roof.

Kokopo Market

Monday to Saturday, 7am to 5pm

Kokopo Market

This may be PNG’s cleanest and safest market. It is frequented by locals and many tourists. With its covered roof and design that includes a central courtyard, the market is a peaceful haven for people wanting to escape the heat and noisiness of Kokopo. It’s situated right next to the Kokopo bus stop and is beautifully sectioned according to the different produce and products that it sells—fresh garden vegetables on one side, nuts and fruit on the other, cooked food to one side, and handicrafts in another area.

Wewak Market

Monday to Saturday, 7.30am to 3pm

Whether it’s coconuts, ginger, bananas or fresh greens that you’re after, Wewak’s main market in the centre of town has a bounty of options to choose from. Take in day-to-day life as you wander through the aisles—the open space with breezy shelters overlooking the water makes it an enjoyable experience. It’s also the best place in town to buy fresh, smoked or dried fish, as well as crab and other seafood. For those looking at purchasing some souvenirs, this market has an extensive craft area.

This is an edited version of the story ‘To market, to market’, which was first published in the July-August edition of Paradise, the in-flight magazine of Air Niugini.

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