Fiji's economy will be boosted if kava exports are opened up for pharmaceutical or medical purposes.
And the benefits of such exports will flow down not only to the kava or yaqona farmers but to many communities.
Fiji Kava Council chairman Rupeni Koroi made the comments while welcoming the findings of a clinical trial on kava carried out by the University of Melbourne.
“If the findings are taken on board by the Australian authorities, then there will be a big market for kava and the demand will also increase," he said.
“Kava farmers want overseas market and they always ask the council when would the markets open up to export their product.
“If the market opens up, then we will have to continue supplying in order to meet the demand overseas.
“As such, the council believes that kava farmers in the country need the assistance of relevant authorities to plant more kava and increase production.”
Koroi attended a European Union-funded meeting in Vanuatu last year to discuss ways of improving the kava industry and the product itself.
He said the council was working closely with Secretariat of the Pacific Community to improve the quality of kava being planted in the country.
“In Fiji, there are 12 varieties of kava planted but there are 82 varieties of kava in Vanuatu.
"But you can't drink some of the kava that is produced in Vanuatu because if you do, then you have to rest completely for two or three days.”
Koroi also said there was a need to have one name for kava in Fiji, saying it had different names in different places where it was planted.
“We need to improve the quality of kava that is produced in Fiji and we also have to clarify the kava lactones, which is something that pharmaceutical companies look at when buying kava.
“Kava is just like food now and we need to work with the agricultural authorities to boost production and improve quality.
“The council believes that the kava industry can beat the sugar industry if it is given support by the authorities concerned.”
Koroi thanked the University of Melbourne for carrying out the research on kava, saying a group from Australia also met with him about two months ago to discuss the kava issue.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
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