19 Jan 2018

Fiji exporter calls for regional kava growers to re-focus

7:31 am on 19 January 2018

A Fijian kava exporter is urging Pacific people to focus on commercial operations rather than small subsistence farming following last month's lifting of a European Union kava export ban.

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Kava roots Photo: RNZ

Lami Kava director Donny Jason Yee, whose family has been farming kava since the 1970s, said now is the time to take advantage of high kava prices and grow the industry.

Currently, Fiji farm gate prices range per kilogram between about $US45 - $60 and kava roots retail at $US50- $75.

Mr Yee said the local market was fiercely competitive, worth $US148 million annually, and the biggest challenge export-wise was competing with Vanuatu.

While it is still early days for him to see any benefits from the EU, he said there's no doubt the kava export market is growing.

For example he said one of the kava bars in the US he supplies provides a service to Russian clients.