Kava

fiji-kava-bannerKava, known as yaqona in Fiji, is widely consumed as a beverage informally and in ceremonial settings.

Bundles of the dried root are presented as a ceremonial offering (sevusevu) when entering villages or for other significant occasions. Fiji exported 478 metric tonnes in 2020 alone with total export earnings estimated to be around $43.6m, as stated by the Fiji Yaqona Task Force.

The volume of kava exports in the past five years was said to have increased, with 2016 recording around 259 metric tonnes, 2017 – 311 metric tonnes, 2018 – 285 metric tonnes, 2019 – 328 metric tonnes and 2020 – 478 metric tonnes as stated by the Fiji Yaqona Task Force. The kava GDP trend in Fiji for the past five years had consistently increased as in 2016 it was $134.5m, in 2017 it was $161.5m, 2018 it was $185.8m and 2019 it was said to be $208.2m as stated by the Fiji Yaqona Task Force.

Kava has now passed sugarcane, ginger and turmeric crop commodities in Fiji in terms of earnings as stated by the Fiji Yaqona Task Force. (Like in Vanuatu with kava surpassing commodities such as copra and cocoa) Kava compared with other crop commodities continued to increase and contributed to an average of 16.3 per cent of total agriculture GDP for the past five years as stated by the Fiji Yaqona Task Force.

The average volume of kava production in Fiji over the past five years was estimated to be around 10,423.06 metric tonnes as stated by the Fiji Yaqona Task Force. The volume of kava production has been consistently increasing by a growth rate of 12.3 per cent at gross value of growth rate of 6.4 per cent as stated by the Fiji Yaqona Task Force.

In Fiji the northern area was revealed to have produced around 43 per cent of the total production followed by the eastern division at 36 per cent and central division at 18 per cent with the western division at 3 per cent of the total production in the year 2020. Fiji exports yaqona to markets including other Pacific nations, New Zealand, to the European Union, USA, and some Asian nations. Some value-added processing is done in Fiji including kava supplement drinks and kava capsules, but it is generally exported as powdered product made up of dried roots (waka) and chips (lewena). The domestic market is substantial and considered as valuable as the export market.

Fiji exports yaqona to markets including other Pacific nations, New Zealand, to the European Union, USA, and some Asian nations. Some value added processing is done in Fiji including kava supplement drinks and kava capsules, but it is generally exported as powdered product made up of dried roots (waka) and chips (lewena). The domestic market is substantial and considered as valuable as the export market.

Since the last 1990’s the export of kava and kava products has been affected by concerns in some markets over poor quality and potential health effects.

Therefore the main market access concerns relate to strengthening the production and regulatory systems in Fiji and other kava producing countries to ensure the quality of exports and confidence of buyers, consumers and regulatory agencies.

The Fiji Market Access Working Group, established through PHAMA, and the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) have confirmed the on-going priority of kava in terms of improving quality. This includes developing simple tests to differentiate between good and bad quality kava, and providing greater opportunities for the large producer base across the country.

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Given the importance of kava to Pacific livelihoods and its significant market and export potential, PHAMA Plus is prioritizing support to Fiji’s kava sector. PHAMA Plus’s assistance to the Fiji kava industry is aimed at improving quality assurance systems and standards to ensure that market access is maintained and the volume and quality of exports increased. PHAMA’s efforts have raised awareness of correct production, processing and storage at all levels of the value chain.

Specifically, PHAMA Plus works with kava exporters, growers and government agencies in Fiji to improve distribution of planting materials; provide information on production and pest/disease management; support expansion of export markets; provide guidance for legislation and regulations; and support compliance efforts to safeguard and maintain exports.

The development of practical and economical quality testing tools will enable more effective quality assurance along the value chain. Government and industry will greatly benefit from increased knowledge to assist decision-making processes in the development of appropriate standards.

 

 

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