VAC to produce 23,000 Kava seedlings under agreement with MALFFB

An agreement has been signed between the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB) and the Vanuatu Agriculture College (VAC) for the production of kava seedlings.

The agreement was signed by the Director General for MALFFB, Moses Amos and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of VAC, Peter Napwatt, after the second kava forum recently on Santo.

Under the agreement, VAC is obliged to produce over 23,000 kava seedlings at a value of VT4 Million to supply to farmers who are interested. DARD will purchase kava seedlings at VT170, considering factors of production and the selling price to farmers will be VT50 per seedling.

The Director for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), Antoine Ravo, said DARD has signed several agreements with private companies under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) policy directive of MALFFB to ensure sufficient supply of kava planting materials are available to farmers.

Many farmers were enquiring on where they could access kava seedlings and cuttings.

“Before interested farmers have access to kava seedlings from VAC, DARD officers will visit the nursery to ensure quality seedlings and the plants are healthy and performing well when planted out in the field.

“We want to receive positive feedback from farmers to maintain the relationship between government and private sector, in this case VAC.

“The VAC students could come up with such initiative to work with the government in their projects when they return home.

“Beleru farm on Santo provides kava cuttings to farmers around Sanma Province. In 2020, more initiatives and agreements will be signed with farmers and especially established farmers’ association who can come forward and indicate their interest in working with MALFFB.

“Apart from kava, MALFFB through DARD will be working with interested farmers of key crops or specific crops like vanilla, pepper, coffee, cacao and other crops to develop each crop through partnership.

“Any interested farmers’ association should notify DARD and DARD officers will do an inspection on farm before an agreement could be reached to further develop identified crops under the jurisdiction of DARD,” Director Ravo said.

As a beneficiary of the partnership agreement, CEO Napwatt encouraged farmers and parents of young people on Santo to increase the number of young people attending the College.

He stated, “This College should enrol more students from Santo. In 2018, top on the list were students from PENAMA Province.

“This year, many students from TAFEA province were enrolled. Today, you may think Santo has a huge land mass but one day you will need to manage your resources and population growth and you need to know what to do to manage those resources.

CEO Napwatt added, “The signed agreement, could become a joint venture between two to ten famers around Santo.

“If a farmer produces 1 million seedlings a year, selling at VT150 per seedling, you will make a total of VT150 million a year and that is a lot of money.

“I encourage more young people from Santo to enrol at VAC next year 2019.

VAC CEO Napwatt said, “Now that the agreement has been signed, VAC will establish kava nurseries to gather for the number required by MALFFB.”

The DG for MALFFB acknowledged VAC for taking up the initiative to work with the government.

DG Amos said, “The government has subsidised the cost of kava seedling so VT50 is a reasonable amount that I believe most of you will afford.

“A lot of discussions and dialogue on issues surrounding kava industry were raised during the second kava forum and now it is time to work.

“The Government through the leadership of MALFFB Minister, ensures that there should not be any excuse of no access to kava seedlings.

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About the author: Marc Gerard
Kava lover. Grew up in Vanuatu.