Some pictures from the traditional Kava gardens from the middle bush of Espiritu Santo – Vanuatu, from which, we wish you an excellent year 2021! Stay relax & be happy even if it might have been hard recently wherever you are.
Our local farmers are working hard for are better future and we are proud of all their commitments & efforts. Keeping our kava culture stronger each year as we grow into bigger kava markets around the world.
With little of the homemade Pacific brew available in Australia, prices have skyrocketed, and there’s been a spike in seizures at the border
The questions are asked quietly, but urgently: “Kava, do you have any? Do you know where to get any? Have you heard what they are paying for it in Sydney?”
When Pasifika meet in Australia, it is often kava that dominates: now, it is the absence of it.
The traditional brew, made from the kava plant and central to so many of the Pacific’s social interactions, is in vanishingly short supply, an unlikely, unhappy, corollary of Covid shutdowns.
And the shortage is harming businesses across the region.
Kava – usually brackish, bitter and mildly euphoric – is made by crushing the roots and rhizome of the kava plant, and mixing the powder with water.
It is drunk, as Faonetapu Takiari, president of Pasifika community group the United Nesian Movement, told the Guardian, whenever Pasifika gather.
“Kava is present at nearly every Pasifika occasion from formal ceremonies to social gatherings and used as a medium to share our culture, carry out traditions and promote social cohesion through talanoa [conversation]”.
In Pacific island nations with little Covid spread, but strict lockdowns and curfews, the traditional late-night sessions have been dramatically curtailed. In Fiji, where the drink is known as yaqona, there was even a temporary ban on sharing the bilo, the communal cup from which the kava is traditionally supped.
Meanwhile, in Australia, supplies run ever lower. The powder made from the plant usually costs around $50 a kilogram, but, in the quiet conversations around Australia, the prices mentioned now are up to 10 times that.
It is legal to bring kava into Australia, but only when personally carried on a plane or ship, and strictly limited to four kilograms per adult per trip. With the Covid-19 pandemic shutting down almost all travel across the Pacific, the kava supply has rapidly dried up.
And while carrying kava into Australia is legal, posting the plant or powder into the country is not, regarded by the Australian Border Force as an illegal importation.
That hasn’t stopped people trying.
Australian Border Force port operations commander Leo Lahey said officers at international mail centres had seen attempts to mail kava into the country increase more than 30-fold.
In January and February, just 67kg of kava was intercepted, Lahey said. “In July and August there’s been 739 detections weighing a total of 2.2 tonnes. So the increase is quite extraordinary.”
It might never have come to this. In early 2019, just days after visits to Vanuatu and Fiji where the issue of kava – if not a bilo or two of it – was raised with Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, his government made two announcements: that the personal limit of kava importation would be doubled from two kilograms to four, and that it would hold a trial of commercial importation of kava during 2020.
Morrison stressed the move was recognition of the centrality of kava to many Pacific cultures. But nearly two years on, a kava impasse is proving a thorn in the side of relations between the Pacific and Australia.
First, the trial of commercial importation was quietly “deferred” on the basis that, because of Covid-19, health authorities did not have sufficient capacity to undertake the necessary consultations and monitoring.
This has not been well received with kava producers and exporters in Pacific island countries who have been waiting years to access what should be one of their largest and most accessible markets.
Joseph Brun, owner of Brun’s Export in Vanuatu, said he had forestalled plans to plant a further 100 hectares of kava given the uncertainty of Australia’s position.
“It had created a positive impact to our business and a good outlook on Australia, we saw it as a potential to move from it into commercial importation.”
The second issue has been that resolutely closed borders across the Pacific have meant that the movement of kava between the island nations and Australia by way of the personal allowance has almost entirely dried up.
Cue shortages, and skyrocketing prices for what little kava is available.
Brun told the Guardian he gets about five requests a week from people in Australia who want him to mail them kava. And with his exports down 70% thanks to Covid, opening up a “kava bubble” with Australia would be a welcome fillip to his business.
In Australia, Takiari said he “absolutely” believed people already in the country who want to use kava should be able to have their personal allowance mailed to them.
“The pros of allowing kava into Australia … will benefit both Pacific communities and Australia as a whole, as kava use traditionally promotes positive social cohesion and cultural integration.”
The Guardian approached the Australian government for comment, but did not receive a response by publication.
Kava importation, without a permit, may have a bitter end.
This year, the importation of kava has increased from 58 detections, weighing a total of 67 kilograms, in January-February to 739 detections, weighing a total of 2.2 tonnes in July-August – that’s a 3000% increase by weight!
The root of the kava plant is traditionally used for therapeutic and recreational purposes by certain cultures, however importing it through the post or by air cargo without a permit is prohibited – and may result in significant penalties.
The spike in detections follows travel restrictions enforced since
The Codex Alimentarius Commission, the supreme body that sets food standards globally has approved a standard for kava when mixed with water.
This has been confirmed by Timothy Tumukon, the Regional Coordinator for the Coordinating Committee for North America and South West Pacific (CCNASWP).
It means countries under NASWP such as USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and 10 Pacific Island states including Vanuatu can now trade kava products amongst themselves as a food and beverage.
Kava has long been widely considered as a drug.
The approval of the first ever regional standard is a “a proud moment” for the 14-member countries of NASWP, said Tumukon.
“The other regions have developed standards but we have never done so before,” he said.
“We took so long to convince other member countries, especially the metropolitan members being USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand because for so long kava was considered as a drug.
“We had to research and find data to verify there is potential to consider kava as a beverage when mixed with water.
“In 2016, the committee requested that we develope a standard which was accepted in 2019 before we push it into the Codex Alimentarius.”
He acknowledged all member countries for lending their support and expertise, the scientists and everyone else who provided scientific information along the journey in getting the standard adopted by the commission.
Vanuatu has been taking the leading role in developing the regional standard since 2012 and successfully getting it approved just last week.
Mr Tumukon has been representing Vanuatu at the Regional CCNASWP since 2012.
Vanuatu’s term as the regional coordinator has now ended.
Fiji has been nominated to take up the role starting soon this month.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Vanuatu kava market immensely.
Many Vanuatu kava exporters have faced with a lot of challenges in exporting dry kava to overseas market due to the closure of international boarders and high export air freight rate which affects the quantity of export.
Currently kava farmers and exporters have identified issues and are adopting with the situation such as Air Vanuatu regular flights to New Caledonia and Fiji Airways flights to United States via Fiji.
“Sea freight was more popular for kava export as the freight is much cheaper than air freight,” said Michael Louze, a kava exporter and the chairman of Vanuatu Kava Industry Working Group.
Mr Louze stated that “The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted the growth of Vanuatu kava export market internationally.
“The Vanuatu kava industry is gradually addressing the impact of COVID-19 on Vanuatu kava export and one of the main issues is to develop more markets.
“Before Tropical Cyclone (TC) Pam in 2015, there was shortage of kava supplies which triggered the high price of kava and after TC Pam, many kava plantations throughout the country were destroyed.
“Many kava farmers throughout Vanuatu have increase kava production since then because of the high price of domestic and international markets.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) through its National Kava Replanting Programme and kava exporters have done a lot awareness to encourage kava farmers to increase production of noble kava varieties to meet market demands.
Kava exporter, Louze added that “Vanuatu kava production is currently very high but given the disasters that Vanuatu is faced with, market growth does not match the increasing production.
“Our priority now is to focus on market development taking into account the various aspects of it, including quantity demand and have bilateral discussions with potential markets to ensure the price of kava remains high and to maintain the markets.
“The price of dried kava fluctuates between VT2,000 to VT 3,000 per kilo depending on the quality of kava.
“Many kava exporters have ceased temporarily to purchase kava because of the high stock of kava.
“Having been in the kava industry for a very long time, I recall in 2002, when dried kava was sold at VT150 to VT200 per kilo. So within 18 years, we have achieved a huge increase in price.
“Many farmers through- out Vanuatu have benefited a lot from this commodity that it empowers farmers to continue increase production.
“When we have increased markets, this implies that there is increased demand. Consequently, we have good price but if we have limited markets, the price will remain low.
“Potential market for Vanuatu kava is huge globally.
“In the future if we are not careful, other countries who do not usually grow kava will start planting kava like the Solomon Islands.
“We need to ensure that Vanuatu produced kava is branded locally and continues to maintain its top quality.
“Ensuring top quality is the responsibility of processors and exporters to make sure all facilities are of high standard.
“If we want our market to grow and Vanuatu’s name to become well- known, we need to supply top quality kava.
“Branding is very important as competition will be high since other countries have started producing more kava as well. So we need to promote Vanuatu original kava and maintain the quality standard as exporter of top quality kava.
“Kava is Vanuatu’s green gold, a commodity whereby local farmers earn a lot of income from.
“Farmers are encouraged to target good quality product to maintain market,” he concluded.
A well-known local builder and constructor, Aku Dinh, has turned himself into a major kava grower with a vision to take the Vanuatu kava industry to another level now and in the years ahead.
This was evident when three state ministers paid a visit to his kava plantations in the Rangorango hill slopes and valleys on Efate on Wednesday this week.
Finance Minister Johnny Koanapo, Agriculture Minister Willie Daniel, and Trade, Cooperative and Tourism Minister James Bule, accompanied also by Infrastructure Minister Jay Ngwele, had the full glimpse of the Aku Dinh kava visional plantations, now a reality.
Mr. Dinh’s kava plantations appear on slopes and hill sides as well as in the valleys of the Rangorango region above the international Bauerfield airport.
The well-managed kava plantations further prove Vanuatu stance on intercropping with kumala, island taro, and island cabbage which is a focus of self-economic reliance.
In his remarks before the start of the tour of the kava plantations, Finance Minister Koanapo, said the Government of the day is committed to the Agriculture Developments in the country. He reiterated that the Government of the day places high priority on Agriculture hence the productive sector including kava products. He went on to add that the three ministers of agriculture, industry, cooperative, tourism and industry work hand in hand to ensure Agriculture Sector of Vanuatu Economy is fully developed and advanced into the future.
“It is the policy of the present government to ensure that every local farmer in the country are assisted towards moving from subsistence farming to becoming commercial famers. The present Government is here to help take the local famers to another level in Agriculture, and the minister of trade, cooperative and tourism is here to ensure local demand is satisfied and export of the kava product and all agricultural products have overseas market at acceptable times. The ministry of finance and the Vanuatu government is to ensure funding is available,” Finance Minister Johnny Koanapo, assures the local investor and every local agricultural farmers and investors.
“Vanuatu must look within to the local famers and investors and provide every assistance to them,” he added.
He also added that the present government is committed to recognize the local investors such as Dinh who have put in resources he has into developing such a huge kava farm as this for internal and overseas market.
“The present government is also committed to promote local investors and famers before looking beyond Vanuatu for foreign investors, particularly in the Agricultural sectors,” minister Koanapo added.
Mr. Dinh revealed to the ministerial delegation that he turned to agriculture, hence kava because he strongly believes that “Life and Money” is in agriculture.
“Everyone knows that I am a builder and constructor almost all my life, but then i saw the importance of turning to land, with a pair of hands to till the land because “life and money” is in agriculture.
“But I also want to emphasis that many people have always taken me wrong that am not local, when in fact I am local.
“I was born here and so my parents and i have lived here all my life. I am pleased to see you all ministers here today and wish to emphasis that it is important to recognize we the Vanuatu local farmers and investors. It is time for the government to give preference of assistance to the local investors and farmers and oppose to the foreign investors, particularly in the agricultural economic sector,” Mr. Dinh requested.
During the tour of the kava plantations, pausing from farm to farm and explaining different planting stages of the kava plants, Mr. Dinh, pointed out the month each plantation was planted, how long it would take to maturity and readiness for harvesting for local market and overseas market, mainly to Noumea New Caledonia importers.
On the question of the total money value of all current kava plantations, Mr. Dinh replied to the Daily Post question: “I cannot detail that out now but later as we get close to harvest and market time, I will tell you,” he replied with a smile.
Dinh eyes future possibility of establishing a kava factory that will produce pharmaceutical products or medicines.
At the end of the plantations tour, ministers of Agriculture and Trade and Cooperatives and Tourism gave their remarks.
Minister of Agriculture Willie Daniel, said the ministry he is responsible for is fully committed to the present government policy initiatives on the development of agriculture as a “Priority Economic Sector” for Vanuatu. “The ministry is working hand in and with the ministry of trade, cooperative and tourism to realize the country’s goals on Agriculture sector hence kava project. The project and plantations we see today is the classic example of the government policy on the sector to raise farmers from subsistence to commercial farmers, it is the government of the day policy to ensure every farmer is given all assistance available to turn land into farms, in kava and all other agricultural sectors. That is why these three of us, with the ministers of trade and finance link together to ensure we fully implement the government policies on agriculture where lies the life and money for our people. We are at the juncture where we must meet the market demand both local, regional and beyond,” minister Daniel stressed.
He assured Mr. Dinh that the government will provide the assistance required to him and all local kava investors and farmers throughout Vanuatu.
Minister of Trade, Cooperatives and Tourism Mr. James Bule, said on his part, his ministry and officials under his ministry will ensure that the government of the day policies on trade and export of the kava and all other products are met. He said it is high time the country of Vanuatu give priority to this sector in order to arrive at a point time where Vanuatu’s own agricultural products will increase and the country become less depend on imported agricultural goods. He urged the farmers such as Mr. Dinh to turn to commercial farming in all sectors of Agriculture.
The Minister of Finance call on all heads of departments and sections under all the government ministries to take note of what they have seen on the visit, prepare to implement the present government policy directions and do not hold up such policies.
Mr. Dinh said he is prepared to work with government agencies in terms of providing technical and other advices to local farmers and investors and as well as supplying kava branches to local farmers anywhere in the country, as the demand comes along: “I am here to help and we must all work together to realize all our dreams to make Vanuatu an economic self-reliant nation,” says Mr. Dinh.
**Important update on Kava Pilot Program Phase 2**
On 8 July 2020, the Australian Government announced that due to the impact of Covid-19 the implementation of phase 2 of the kava pilot program will now commence in 2021. Targeted consultation will commence once travel restrictions and the impact of the pandemic have eased.
The Australian Department of Health further advised that temporary measures to allow for the import of kava for personal use by mail is not possible as legislative changes and significant consultation with states and territories would be required.
Kava Bazaar is very disappointed by this delay and will continue to support kava farmers, manufacturers and associated businesses to prepare for phase 2 of the kava pilot program, now set to commence in 2021. We are also looking for ways to continue import of kava for personal use during times of restricted travel.
The head of Vanuatu’s Kava Industry Association says Pacific island countries are being “deceived”, as Australia looks set to delay a promised trial to import commercial amounts of kava.
The Australian Government – as part of its ‘Pacific Step-up’ – had announced a pilot program last year that would allow kava producers from across the region to sell their product in Australia.
But Pacific Beat has received confirmation from Australia’s Department of Health that the pilot program is “likely” to be postponed to 2021, because of COVID-19.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) spokesperson said the Australian Government response to COVID-19 is a priority for the Department of Health.
“However, development work on the kava commercial importation pilot is continuing, taking into consideration that full implementation and further targeted consultation is unlikely to occur until travel restrictions are fully lifted,” they said.
The spokesperson added that this meant that the pilot is unlikely to commence until 2021.
Michael Louze, an exporter and chair of the Vanuatu Kava Industry Association says its disappointing and Pacific leaders should “react strongly” to the delay.
Our return trip from #PentecostIsland was made possible by #TevanuStar Silentworld Shipping & Logistics Vanuatu Limited . We are forever indebted to these local sea vessels and their management in #VanuatuWaters who eandeavour to #ConnectLives in outer islands to the main town centers. The crew here were effecient and prompt in delivering cargo and passengers and picking up at each passage with their awesome #CustomerCareService. One cannot ask for luxury in these circumstances however it is with pride that these men serve their customers -definitely proud #NiVanuatuCrew taking ownership of their peoples well being by offering the best service possible. #TheKavahouse team throroughly enjoyed the trip and amazing to see how much #VanuatuKava move across the waters. Tank yu tumas Captains , Super Cargo mo Ol Boe . Respect! ❤️👊🏽🍃🌴
PIERRE FARE IS A YOUNG FARMER from North West B area on malekula who decided to invest on kava production since 2015. We caught up with farmer Fare this week at the lakatoro Market House (LMH) where he was selling his kava.
“Today, I came with 30 kilos of kava and will be selling at 700VT per kilo. I will go home today with 21,000VT because it is an order from my client,” farmer Fare said.
Fare stated that kava, as one of the main source of income for many people on Malekula, was also partly affected by TC Harold including his 3 hectares of kava and so he planned to sell them weekly at LMH.
“Five years ago, I observed many farmers from my community growing kava which earned them huge amount of money so this has inspired me as a young person to start planting kava and here I am today, already benefiting from the kava I have grown. “Kava is the main income generating product in my village, not other products such as coconut and cocoa. I have noticed that a lot of farmer earn good income from kava .” said farmer Fare.
As a young energetic farmer, Fare, said he will continue to grow kava to ensure a high quantity for future income. “I would like to appeal to young people who have huge land to make good use of it. “If you invest on your land, you will reap a good harvest and will not depending on your parents to give you money but survive on your own and have a good future.” He concluded.
The Government of Vanuatu is only allowing the islands who got affected by TC HAROLD to be selling kava to Port Vila.
Prime Minister, Bob Loughman has stopped all the other islands that were not affected by the cyclone not to send Kava to Port Vila. But the islands that were affected can send Kava to Port Vila/Efate to be sold. And the Minister of Climate Change, Bruno Leingkone, Has assured all the people or farmers of Pentecost that they can put their Kava inot any Cargo Ships to be dropped in Port Vila with free of charge.
FOR BISLAMA READERS:
Kavman hemi allowem ol afek aelan nomo blong salem kava long maket naoia long Port Vila. Prime Minista, Bob Loughman i stoppem ol aelan weh oli no been affected long TC Harold blong no sendem kava i kam, beh ol aelan nomo weh oli affected bambae oli save sendem kava i kam long Efate blong salem. Mo Minista blong Climate Change, Bruno Leingkone, hemi assurum ol pipol blong Penticost blong bambae oli save putum ol kava blong olgeta fri, long any ship weh i ko dropem ol kakae long aelan ia.
This came about after the National Disaster Management Office responded positively to the call made by the Vanuatu Kava Industry Association (VKIA).
VKIA chairman, Michael Louze, explained that since the State of Emergency (SoE), no kava could be exported and VKIA respected the rules to support the campaign against COVID-19.
But with the extensive damage on kava by cyclone Harold, it was primordial that export can start again, to ensure damaged kava can also be exported instead of rotting in gardens.
“We are really pleased the NDMO has given us the authorisation that we can resume exportation because it will also help us to meet expenses to farmers who needed us now because of the damaged kava from cyclone Harold,” he said.
“We have a first shipment since the first state of emergency ends and this shipment was for our market in US; unfortunately, it had to be shipped as borders were still closed and export by plane was not an option but we are very happy that the kava can be exported again and everyone is happy.”
Around 15 tonnes of kava had been stocked in Vila ready for exportation but it was not possible for the stock to be shipped out because the SoE was in place and other COVID-19 restrictions.
According to the chairman of VKIA, the next shipment will be for the Noumea market but this will depend if the nakamals reopen on the 5th of May.
Many farmers in the islands affected by cyclone Harold have started work on the damage kava recently; they were mobilised in helping their families and relatives to build back homes destroyed by the cyclone and help in the relief supplies in each community affected.
According to Mr. Louze, the kava production will see a big drop in the coming months and year as everyone will have to wait for new harvest. This will take time.
Chairman of the Kava Industry Association, Michael Louze, has asked the National Disaster Management Office(NDMO) to allow the exportation of 15 tonnes of kava stocked in Port Vila so the exporters can continue to pay for kava from farmers who are now victims of the damage caused by cyclone Harold.
The 15 tonnes of kava are destined for the New Caledonia and US markets.
In a letter addressed to the director of NDMO, Mr Louze said kava is Vanuatu’s main commodity and every month, kava transactions by the exporters ensure around Vt100 million reach the rural kava farmers.
“With the COVID-19 crisis, most of our overseas markets have slowed down, as people are confined, public places like kava bars are closed however there is still a demand,” he explained.
“Exporters have slowed down their purchases but are still operating and preparing stock for shipments.
“With Cyclone Harold, communities now need our support more than ever before to purchase the damaged kava. The private sector can play a very important role in this but the exporters also need support.”
According to Mr Louze, the problem is that if those shipments are not exported, it is very likely that most exporters will slow or even stop their purchase and some of them will simply stop sending money to the islands.
“With around 15 tonnes of kava to be exported, we are talking around Vt65 to 75 million coming into Vanuatu’s economy. This will enable us to continue to purchase the kava from farmers who now have lots of damage kava caused by cyclone Harold,” he added.
“We all understand the COVID-19 issues, but let us try our best to address the area of concern that may arise and we would kindly like to request NDMO to consider urgently the organization of airfreight and flights to enable the export of our commodities to help maintain a bit the economical activity in Vanuatu and bring much needed foreign currency into the country.”
Mr Louze said with category 5 Harold having passed and causing extensive damages (yet to be assessed) in SANMA, MALAMPA AND PENAMA, things have now changed and sadly not for the best.
A Ni-Vanuatu local kava businessman has voiced grave concerns over a Chinese national allegedly selling green kava in Port Vila.
The local businessman questions whether the Chinese national does have a licence to sell green kava product, in and around Port Vila town.
Mr. Theodore David from Aneityum who operates green kava outlet at Anabouru, in Port Vila, alleged that the Chinese national, is driving around in a vehicle, and selling green kava products, to owners of kava bars in Port Vila and as well as, to any interested kava buyers.
“The Chinese national is driving around in his vehicle with large quantity of green kava and sells to local kava bar operators at Vt1,000 per kilo. I have personally questioned him, if he does have a business license to sell kava, but he refused answer me,” Mr. Theodore David, stated. Mr. David said he is suspicious of the way the Chinese national goes around selling green kava products in and around Port Vila, as to whether or not he has a local business license to sell Vanuatu green kava products.
“I doubt very much that the Chinese national has a license in the way he goes around selling green kava products, which I take it come from outer islands of Vanuatu,” Mr. David alleged.
He said he would question the local authority as to why grant a Chinese national a license to purchase and sell green kava product when this should be reserved for Ni-Vanuatu citizens only.
“On Tuesday Thursday afternoon (last week) at around 4.00 pm, the same Chinese was seen driving around and soliciting to sell green kava roots to kava bar owners and individuals around the Anabouru areas, “Mr. Theodore David, alleged.
Commenting on the issue, the Manager of the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA) Mr. Raymond Vuti, referred the Daily Post to Vanuatu Kava Act No.7 of 2002, Part 2 Section 5 on ‘Who can sell kava product on the local market’ which states: “A person must not sell or offer kava product unless the person is (a) an indigenous ni-Vanuatu or (b) a local company within the meaning of the Companies Act (CAP 191) that has at least 51% of the shares (voting or otherwise) owned or controlled by persons who are indigenous ni-Vanuatu”.
Mr. Vuti said the concern of the ni-Vanuatu will be verified against the current Kava Act No. 7 of 2002, before further comments can be made.
Kava is rapidly becoming a significant cash crop in the Pacific. It offers a unique road to development for the region, as it is a high-value, durable commodity which is currently exclusively produced in the Pacific.
Almost every other commodity which the Pacific produces are produced on a global scale, with the Pacific having little to no impact on the global supply and demand. The glaring exception to this is kava, whereby the Pacific dominates the industry.
In Vanuatu, known as the ‘home of kava’, the level of exports soared in late 2017. In 2018, kava was 52% of merchandise exports.
This is at record levels, and well over double the long-term equilibrium. To note Tropical Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu in March 2015, devastating many kava farms across the country.
However, it can only be suggested that the focused kava activities such as the kava campaigns and replanting programmes and other promotional events that were executed in the past few years appeared to have some positive input to the progress as expressed in the kava export data.
One of the activities was the second kava forum held in Luganville, Santo, on September 24, 2019 purposely to bring farmers and stakeholders together to discuss issues surrounding the kava industry and also provide recommendations and resolutions that will bring way forward for the development of kava into the future.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (DARD) Kava Officer, Peter Kwari said, “The main purpose of the National Kava Replanting Programme launched in 2015 is to first promote the replanting of the ‘noble’ kava varieties and secondly to strengthen and develop the capacity of lead-farmers and extension officers in kava production (quality/quantity) to implement, enforce and ensure compliance with the provisions of the new Kava Act which was passed and gazetted at the parliament to regulate kava quality and ensure that only ‘noble’ kava varieties are traded on the domestic and international market as stipulated in the Kava Act.
“The overall objective is to implement and enforce the Kava Act (Kava Act no. 6 of 2016) and promote the production of noble kava varieties.
“The National target is to plant 1 million kava seedlings by 2025 and to become the leading producer of good quality kava in the Pacific and the world and to enforce the ban of trading “Tu dei” kava in the domestic and export markets.”
Over 20,000 households in Vanuatu are expected to benefit from this programme since over 75% of the population live in the rural areas, and these households depend entirely on kava to generate income.
It also benefits local market vendors, mainly in Port Vila, Santo and the sub-urban areas to improve quality and increase the volume of kava sold locally and internationally.
Furthermore, this also certainly reduces health risks in consumption of tu-dei kava.
Six distributions of planting materials and launching on Efate, Maewo, Pentecost, Santo, Malekula, and Tanna has brought together farmers purposely to disseminate information and as well as distribute free kava branches and polybags.
Extension officers were appointed by the Director of Agriculture as compliance officer and trained to effectively carry out their roles as indicated on the Act throughout the high production areas mentioned above.
As part of the awareness, the field workers also identified and collected noble variety cuttings and established multiplication plots at various agriculture stations purposely to distribute planting materials to interested farmers.
Kava Officer, Kwari stated, “The programme outcome has seen a great control on the national capacity for kava quality control, increased production, marketing of noble kava and increased contribution to the country’s GDP.
“Over 20,000 households around Vanuatu now benefit from this program after TC Pam.
“The 2019 Kava Replanting Programme indicates that 5,600 kava cuttings were distributed to farmers in Penama province, Sanma province with 35,640 cuttings, Malampa province 27,839 seedlings, Shefa province 107,732 seedlings and Tafea province with 3,214 cuttings.
“A total of 135,571 kava seedlings and 44,454 cuttings were distributed in 2019.
“Kava is a key commodity crop for Vanuatu, with high demand both domestically and internationally.
“To increase production of this key crop, the DARD is supporting the planting of a million kava seedlings by 2020.
“These seedlings must be of the noble varieties following the Kava Act which states that only nobel varieties can be produced and sold for export.
“To realise this ambitious objective DARD has created partnerships with reliable producers of kava seedlings to meet the high number of seedlings required to distribute to farmers across the country,” the officer responsible for kava said.
DARD under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB) has initiated the Public Private Partnership (PPP) programme involving the private sector to participate in the agriculture sector especially in some priority cash crops. Kava is one of the priority crops that show high economic impact in the lives of Vanuatu people.
DARD has signed three contracts in 2019. The first contract was signed with the Cloud Kava Company to supply 17,647 kava seedlings to DARD at VT170 per seedling and sold to farmers at a price range from VT 50 to VT150 per seedling.
The second agreement was signed with Erro Timber and Sandalwood Company to assist farmers on Erromango with 2,904 kava cuttings, and the other contract was signed with Beleru farm to supply farmers around Santo and Malo with 35,640 kava cuttings.
Mr Kwari concluded, “Some of the key challenges encountered during the implementation of the Kava Replanting Programme were financial constraints, shortage of poly bags from suppliers, kava dieback disease, high demand of interested farmers and high cost of cuttings.
“The way forward would be ensuring finance is available on time, farmers must increase production to reduce the cost or price of kava in the domestic market, assistance needed to support kava replanting programme in particular nursery establishment, training, logistics and data collection, continuation of distribution of planting materials to reduce the cost of cuttings, continue with the PPP Policy — engaging the private sectors in the kava replanting program, and extension officers to acquire more training to familiarise themselves with the nobel kava varieties specified in the Kava Act.
Also to continue to assists and encourage Provincial Agriculture Officers (PAO) to establish kava collection plots at their station, visit farms and major kava producing islands in Vanuatu, trial out different cropping systems with kava, and train Assistant Agriculture Officers to know how to identify kava dieback disease symptoms.
Kava has not always been consumed out Of a dish.. Some islands were and still are – traditionally preparing cups individually directly straining the kava juice in a shell, like when kava is chewed (Tanna Island) or stone ground ( Maewo, North Pentecost, Banks). In some other places, kava was prepared in wooden dishes or stone dish and Chief would knee down and drink directly from the dish….
The strong Tongan influence In Fiji and then Missionaries and the Churches have slowly populariséd the Tanoa there too.
Kava wooden dishes are a traditional norms in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Wallis and Futuna, and there are many versions and names. Some are carved in Tamanu woods , some have many legs, but the Fijian Tanoa has only four.
Tanoa are coming mainly from the Far eastern islands of Lau Group ( Kambara) and are carved out in Vesi wood. ( Intsia bijuga) ( natora or kohu). They can be preserved for many years provided that they are given some basic care and attention:
Since wood is a porous material, changes in humidity and temperature levels will cause it to expand or cracks…so Store it properly away from extrem temperatures and humidity, avoid direct sunlight and fireplace or other heat source…
Also prior to using it for the first time , the Tanoa should be immersed in water for a week and then thoroughly dried. During immersion, water should be changed daily until it becomes clear. This will help to clean the Tanoa and help prevent the wood from cracking.
January 16, 2015 at 17:06 (updated on January 20, 2015 at 09:21)
In the evening, from north to south of Grande Terre, Kanaks, Caldoches, subways and Wallisians gather in small huts, the nakamals, to share a bitter decoction with relaxing properties.
The district of Nouville, Nouméa, offers a toporama such that one could spend a lifetime without leaving. Pell-mêle, we find on the peninsula a high school, the university and its campus, port facilities, the remains of the old prison, the current penitentiary center, a theater, a psychiatric hospital, the Senate customary … And the Edenic Sunset: in the late afternoon, nestled in the heart of lush vegetation – and framed by small slums – the spot guarantees a breathtaking view of the sunset that, after iridescent ocean , bows out into the distance. A dazzling almost daily in New Caledonia, worthy of the most caricatural clichés, except that the Sunset is not a place so common, since it is a nakamal.
A nakamal? Quèsaco? Imported from the Vanuatu archipelago, where its use, reserved for men, is based on ancestral beliefs highly codified, the nakamal is a community space dedicated to the consumption of a singular beverage: kava. Quèsaco (bis)? Not to be confused with coffee, despite a treacherous phonetic, it is a decoction that has properties diametrically opposite to those of the little black, since it consumes it to relax. In the end, this is a form of light-hearted light, locally tolerated, where other territories such as France, Great Britain or Switzerland forbid it (risk of liver damage, according to some controversial medical studies), while Australia is thinking about to do the same but this time by invoking issues of illegal trafficking.
Red Loupiote. Cruising New Caledonia on the kava trail does not prevent you from enjoying the thousand and one environmental treasures of this lush archipelago (palm trees, coconut palms, banyan trees, niaoulis … ad infinitum) surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world. world (1,600 kilometers). On the contrary, it is hard to imagine, for example, making the trip without knowing the intense experience of a picnic on the beach, embellished by the frequent reptilations of striped knits, these small marine snakes with deadly venom (their bite is equivalent to ten times that of the royal cobra), but, it seems, safe (or almost) for man: they are said to be insane and as peaceful as the ocean in which they are going to eat.
Credit: Gilles RENAULT
Less rich in strong sensations – the aim being precisely the opposite – the nakamal is nevertheless worth the detour for its incomparable ethnological virtues. It is the only context in which Kanaks (the Melanesians who make up the indigenous people), Caldoches (the white people settled there for several generations), metros (those who live there temporarily) and Wallisians rub shoulders, let alone all social barriers. abolished.
The Sunset, the Palm trees, the 21, the Stairs … there are more than a hundred nakamals in Noumea alone, and many others scattered throughout the bush. Places are usually not reported, except sometimes by a red wolf, lit when they are open. The setting itself is not glamorous: it will be a sort of straw hut, a cabin, even a garden furniture (plastic chairs, oilcloth) and decorated (tiki statuettes, posters). It opens at the end of the afternoon and closes … when the barrel is empty.
Kava comes from the root of a plant, the piper methysticum, which, in its traditional form, is chewed and then spit out on a banana leaf. Insiders, who tested it in Vanuatu, describe an ox effect. More “all public”, the New Caledonian version is made from the powdered and conditioned rhizome. Served by the ladle for a small fee (80 cents of the standard amount), the elixir is drunk in a half-empty coconut (photo below). Soapy, bitter, earthy, the qualifiers used to describe the taste of kava are not great. Moreover, once the liquid is swallowed, we spit in a long sink, before rinsing the bowl and nibble anything (chips, piece of apple, candy) intended to fade the unpleasant sensation. But not to the point of supplanting the effects felt, which begin with an impression of anesthesia in the mouth, antechamber of what the exegetes call the “song of kava”
Credit: Gilles RENAULT
Vincent Vuibert is one of them. It is found in the north of Grande Terre, Koné. A few kilometers from the famous Heart of Voh – this clearing in the mangrove immortalized on the cover of the book of Yann Arthus-Bertrand the Earth seen from the sky. Jimmy is a nakamal lost at the end of a dirt track lined with arid fields, where pickup and 4 × 4 converge in the late afternoon to “raise some shells,” according to the formula. Like a fish in the water in this Wild West setting, thirty-year-old Vincent Vuibert, author and prize-winner last year in Caledonia for his novel Weed Chronicles, details the iterative pleasure he gets from practicing: “The kava it is pleasant that unlike alcohol or cannabis, it disinhibits, relaxes and keeps a certain lucidity, all without creating addiction. He favors the meeting, the exchange, frees the spirit. In addition, it amplifies the pleasure of writing for me. “
“The soul of the country”. “For who wants to meet people, it’s really nakamal that is the soul of the country,” says Gwen, 260 kilometers below, in Noumea, in an improbable bivouac plunged into the darkness of a wasteland in front an administrative building. Conquered since the underground beginnings of the late 80s, this employee of the public service co-hosts a webzine, the Cri du Cagou (1), which sings in particular the praises of this “unclassifiable place, guarantor of social life”. At the end of October, the self-proclaimed “kava masta” (master of the kava), not without pride, initiated Imhotep, the sound architect of the group IAM. “And frankly, I think he liked it,” he says with a smile.
The Pacific Island States want to make it an export product. While Europe forbids it, kava bars are becoming more numerous across the Atlantic.
A bowl of kava with lemon and mint served at the Brooklyn Kava Bar on January 18, 2018 in New York. | Don Emmert / AFP
Night falls on Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. A colorful light is hung on a tree and indicates the presence of a kava bar, also called nakamal. People gather there to share some bowls of kava, emblematic drink of this Pacific archipelago. In the shadows, Ni-Vanuatu as well as expatriates and tourists discuss in English or Bichelamar, the lingua franca of the archipelago. The keeper serves to ladle a cloudy liquid in bowls called shells, for less than two euros. The kava is drunk dry. A sink is available to those who wish to spit or rinse their mouths. The taste is bitter and astringent. Throat clearing is heard. The atmosphere is relaxed. Kava soothes. In Vanuatu, nakamals are places to meet and discuss after work, just like bars and pubs in Europe. But alcohol is not present.
Kava has been drunk since ancient times in some Pacific islands such as Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu or Hawaii. It comes from the roots of kava, a plant related to pepper. “Kava was banned during colonization. After the independence of 1980, very quickly, it becomes a cultural claim, a way to assert itself in relation to the Westerners who never considered it very well. Today, it is a marker of cultural identity. This is the official drink of the government, “says Vincent Lebot, co-author of the book Drinkers kava and researcher at CIRAD.
Vanuatu produces cocoa, coffee, sugar, but these are not competitive products in the export market. Island States can produce only small volumes. “The original idea is to promote a product from small Pacific island countries that they would have exclusivity. This is the case of kava, “he says. A bitter taste, a peppery smell, a dull color, it is not the best selling drink. “It’s not really good. We drink it to share something. People are looking for conviviality, not taste, “says Vincent Lebot.
However, it has many advantages. Kava does not affect the central nervous system. There is no dependency, unlike coffee for example. Neither addiction, on the contrary: when you get used to the effects, there is no need to drink as much. No side effects either, except in cases of particularly excessive consumption where the skin can become very dry.
Europeans have been interested in kava for its medicinal, relaxing and soothing properties since the 19th century. “The Western pharmaceutical industries have developed products that are often not very effective and are not particularly representative of the real effects of kava when it is taken as a beverage”, Vincent Lebot describes. Capsules based on kava extracts have some success. But in the early 2000s, controversy erupts when extracts made in Germany are potentially hepatotoxic. “This potential toxicity is due to poor quality control rather than the plant itself,” says the researcher. What is hepatotoxic is not kava but the product that the Germans made. Which has not even been really demonstrated. “
Kava plant in a garden on the island of Santo, Vanuatu. | Sylvie Nadin
While in the late 1990s, kava belonged to the group of the most used medicinal plants around the world, the pharmaceutical market collapsed rapidly. In 2001, in Germany, products made from kava extracts were gradually withdrawn from sale. In January 2002, the French Agency for Health Safety of Health Products decided to follow German decisions and banned, according to the precautionary principle, the placing on the market of kava in all its forms. An amazing decision since Kaviase, a drug reimbursed by the Social Security, had been sold in France for decades without any complaint. New Caledonia, meanwhile, does not prohibit kava, already widespread in its territory. The World Health Organization (WHO) decides to evaluate the hepatotoxicity of kava among regular consumers in the Pacific, but the observations of health professionals in these territories show no predominance of liver problems in these populations. Kava is still banned in France. The damage is done, the reputation of kava is tainted, the doubt still persists today.
Exports up Despite European bans, the export market is currently expanding on other continents, particularly in the Pacific and the United States. Although there is no funding from abroad for kava, unlike other crops such as livestock or coconut, the number of kavaculturists is increasing year by year. Vincent Lebot nuance: “You have to make a quality product to export but the kava still has a bad image. Vanuatu must invest in quality control. A new scandal should not break out. “ Today, the main export product is dried roots, although some exporters specialize in ready-to-use powder. “It would take a finished product, bottle the kava to value it, make the taste and color acceptable,” adds the researcher. He receives a notification about a novelty: Pacific Roots Kava, a frozen fresh purée from Vanuatu, then bottled in Auckland before being sent to the United States. “This is the first bottle of fresh kava exported that I hear about. Everything has been sold but will it stabilize? “Questions Vincent Lebot.
Fresh kava roots from the islands arrive in the capital and are sold at the kava market Anabru directly to the owners of kava bar. | Sylvie Nadin
In recent years, exports have risen and pushed up prices. Kava becomes locally more and more expensive. “Today, the price of the kilo of fresh kava revolves around 1,000 vats [just under 8 euros] whereas only a few years ago, it was more like 400 vats [about 3 euros]. This kills the local market of kava bars. The effect depends on the dose, and if the price of kava increases, to avoid increasing the price of a shell, it will be more and more diluted, which will reduce its effects. The consumer will then turn to other drinks such as alcohol, “says Vincent Lebot. He added: “Production needs to increase so that it does not become a real problem. If production increases and quality is there, then it can contribute to the economic development of small countries. “ “We have a natural product, with no toxicity, no side effects, with an immediate effect to calm anxiety, it is normal that it pleases.”
Michael Louze, kava exporter Michael Louze is an exporter, kava enthusiast and creator of a website “to list the kava bars, locate them and note them, the nakamal TripAdvisor!”. His warehouse is located in Port Vila. He receives the kava in the form of dried chips. It washes, digs and sorts to remove pieces where there is mold or skin. He checks that they are the right varieties because they are not all consumable. “I am used to it. I recognize the species by smell now, “he says with a smile. He confides throw about 15% of what he receives, a quantity that is not negligible. “Bad varieties have no proven toxicity, but they can have unpleasant effects the next day, such as headaches,” he says. Kava is like wine: there are more or less good, it depends on the variety and the origin. “
Michael Louze sometimes goes to the market in Anabru kava, Port Vila. Lateral roots and stumps are exposed on tarpaulins, these are the only parts of the plant used to make the drink. A sign with the price per kilo and the provenance is placed next to a scale. Santo, 1,000 vatus. Pentecost, 800 vatus. The price varies according to the origin and the age. “The older he is, the more expensive he is. Normally we do not pick it for three years, “says Michael Louze. It exports mainly to the United States and New Caledonia but sometimes has requests for other regions. According to him, the overseas market will continue to grow. “We have a natural product, with no toxicity according to the WHO, no side effect, with an immediate effect to calm anxiety, it’s normal that it pleases.” He smiles: he just received by email confirmation of ‘a one-tonne order for New Mexico. Kava boom in the United States The first kava bars were born in the United States in the early 2000s. Kava is only drunk in Polynesian and Hawaiian clubs. Laurent Olivier left New Caledonia at this time and the idea germinated in his head to open a kava bar. “In 2000, I imported twenty kilos of kava roots. He was immediately seized by the customs. I had to explain and negotiate to get it back. Finding a place to settle was also difficult, it was hard for them to understand what I wanted to do, thinking that kava could be a drug, “he recalls. In January 2002, he opened Nakava in Boca Raton, Florida. The concept pleases. Many kava bars open the following years.
In 2012, Laurent Olivier creates an import and distribution company: Kava Depot. He also invests in a laboratory to test the quality of the kava as well as in a processing unit. “The FDA is very strict about the quality and risks of contamination,” he says. Suppliers who want to export to the United States must be registered with the FDA and have processing plants to US standards. She will in the coming months send experts to check all the exporters. If they do not pass the inspection, they will no longer be able to export there. “
Today, there are about 185 kava bars, more than half of which are in Florida. It becomes the fashionable place. Laurent Olivier has an explanation: “A place like kava bar is above all friendly, it fills a gap in American society. It is an alternative for former alcoholics and for those who do not like alcohol. People get used to the taste of kava because its relaxing effect is quickly felt. “Different concepts are emerging such as the kava bar studio yoga, the kava bar art gallery, the kava bar pizza, the kava bar billiard and even the kava bar strip club. “People are very creative when they open a kava bar,” laughs Laurent Olivier.