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.