You can easily buy lime power in any public market in Papua New Guinea. Sometimes, the market is just full of white powder, a wide-eyed tourist would wonder what this is . . .
As almost every family in rural PNG cultivates their own “food gardens”, the betel nut and mustard stick (a pepper plant) can be grown in people’s backyards. But the lime is something that needs buying as this is processed from corals – mainly acropora, these branching stag-horn corals are amongst the fastest growing corals – about 10 cm/year.
But harvesting of corals can become a problem if unregulated and unmanaged. In M’Buke, the elders, environmental conservation core group and the women coral collectors in the community have collaborated with the village chief on the regulations and laws when and where corals can be harvested. Coral harvesting can be done four times a year. The harvest season is closed for three months and on the last 2 days of the third month, women can go out to selected areas to harvest a limit of one basket per collector.