IN the not so near future, we may be drinking more kava than we plant.
And if we use the 2009 National Agriculture Census figures, this means we have to plant more than 6066 tonnes and we would probably spend more than $54million — the amount locals spend annually on kava.
At the Fiji National Kava Consultation Workshop, Agriculture ministry chief economist Ilimeleki Kaiyanuyanu said "despite the increasing demand of kava in local markets, traders and middlemen fear the ability of farmers to meet quantity demand, while currently experiencing short supply".
Initially kava was a secondary crop that was to be grown with dalo and yams. In 1998 it overrode the commercial status of dalo in terms of revenue generated through its export earnings.
The boom in 1998 saw export earnings reaching over $34million from $5.9m in 1997.
"To date, kava is no longer a significant commodity due to claims of toxicity," Mr Kaiyanuyanu said.
"Rational attempts to reopen the market require significantly justified evidence that kava is not toxic to human.
"For this reason, Codex Fiji has come up with national kava standards."
The meeting was to discuss kava industry issues as well as interests in the Kava Decree.
The draft decree suggests the establishment of a kava council, which would administer the interests of its members and kava farmers.