19 Mar 2018

Vanuatu kava exporter says nothing wrong with 'tudei'

10:12 am on 19 March 2018

A Vanuatu kava exporter says foreigners have misled the industry into believing the so-called tudei variety of the crop poses a health risk.

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Photo: RNZ / Daniela Maoate-Cox

The comment from Peter Colmar comes amid hopes of some kava producers that restrictions on export of tudei might be eased.

An industry meeting this month resolved that there would be a review of all scientific literature on tudei kava, but that Vanuatu's policy of promoting only so-called "noble" variety would continue.

Mr Colmar said there was no vigorous evidence that tudei was bad for consumers' health, as some scientists claimed.

He said the majority of kava farmers in Vanuatu were planting tudei.

"And they say that our grandfathers were drinking this, we've been drinking this, what are you talking about?

"They can't understand what this stupid government thing is," Mr Colmar said.

"Under their law, the Vanuatu Kava Act, there are 126 varieties of tudei, and there are twelve of noble.

"So what we're saying is that for the last two thousand years the people of Vanuatu were really stupid because they selected the wrong kava," he said.

"That's what the white scientists are saying."

According to Mr Colmar, it was also misleading for Vanuatu authorities to distinguish between noble and tudei groups of varieties when, he claimed, both should just be simply considered kava.

Furthermore, he felt that claims by some scientists that tudei kava was bad for the livers of consumers were bogus.

"I want to know where all these dead people are. We have a huge diabetes problem (in Vanuatu) in the hospitals, we don't have people with liver problems," he said.

"If this thing was deadly like they say, where are all these dead people, where are all these people with liver damage? What I'm saying it, hey, let us export both (varieties)."