Fiji’s kava exports net $43.6m in 2020

Suva municipal market vendor Ram Chandar Govind arranging kava roots (waka) for sale. Picture: FILE/JOVESA NAISUA

There has been a rise in demand for kava and kava products as this was directly reflected through the exponential increase in Fiji’s export earnings, from $14.2 million in 2016 to $43.6m in 2020.

This was according to the Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport Faiyaz Koya during the inaugural National Kava Committee Meeting held in Suva yesterday.

“But this is just the beginning – we have achieved this outcome by exporting kava to only a handful of countries and mostly promoted kava through word of mouth.

“But we know our potential is much greater than this.

“This is why we are continuing with our endeavour to expand our reach to prospective markets, like Europe and Asia.”

He said this included holding bilateral discussions with countries to tackle market access issues and changing mindsets through positive marketing to facilitate review of import restrictions on kava in international jurisdictions.

“One such example is Australia — we have worked hard to gain access into the Australian market and have been successful.

“With the success of the first phase of the kava pilot program, allowing an increase in the personal importation of kava from 2kg to 4kg into Australia — the second phase of this program has commenced from December 1, 2021.”

This meant that Fijians could now commercially export kava to Australia with no limit on quantity, provided they meet all the regulatory requirements.

“The kava industry has faced many impediments like natural disasters, supply constraints, burden of regulatory requirements and standards.

“Hence, at the regional level, Forum Trade Ministers have mandated the officials to determine ways of enhancing market access and market diversification for kava and kava products.

“In this regard, a Regional Kava Development Strategy will be developed by the Regional Kava Working Group that consists of members from the Forum Island Countries, including Fiji.”

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