Kava growers keeping industry alive: Rayalu

Fiji's Ministry of Agriculture deputy permanent secretary and chief economist Vatimi Rayalu. Picture: FILIPE NAIGULEVU

KAVA growers are the primary source of material necessary to keep the kava industry alive, says Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture deputy permanent secretary and chief economist Vatimi Rayalu.

Mr Rayalu made the comments at a two-day workshop held in Suva that included kava growers, traders and exporters.

“You are the primary source of materials necessary to keep the industry alive. Thank you for keeping this sector alive,” Mr Rayalu said.

He said the commitment made by those people to growing kava had resulted in the successful exports of their produce and the jobs created in the sector for economic development.

He said while earnings from Fiji’s annual kava exports had bounced back over the last few years, the challenge for the agriculture sector was to increase non-sugar exports by $100million and reduce imports of fruits and vegetables by $80million by the year 2020.

“This workshop provides a platform for dialogue and better understanding of issues relating to agriculture trade, production and exports and in finding ways to address market access issues.”

Mr Rayalu also urged ministry officials to listen to farmers and make the effort to acquire first-hand knowledge from them.

“I know there are officials here and I think that message is for you, to listen to the farmers because they are the ones dirtying their hands so it’s advisable and good to listen to those that are doing it and get first-hand knowledge of their experience. It will be good for us in the long run.”

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