Vanuatu kava cleared for European market
A lead kava researcher in Vanuatu has welcomed the lifting of sanctions against Kava in the European market saying it will inspire confidence in other markets.
A lead kava researcher in Vanuatu has welcomed the lifting of sanctions against kava in the European market saying it will inspire confidence in other markets.
French scientist Vincent Lebot says although Europe is not a large market for Vanuatu its banning of the traditional drink based on toxicity concerns had an adverse effect on larger kava markets in the United States and New Caledonia.
Dr Lebot spoke with our correspondent Hilaire Bule in Port Vila.
Dr Vincent Lebot: That is very good news for the international market, because now the situation is clear. We know that kava itself is not a toxic product. If it is handled properly, in other words farmers have to plant only noble varieties, and these varieties have to be properly peeled before export. This has been profusely documented at the scientific level and we know that kava is safe. Now, the situation in the international market is quite clear too, what happened in Europe had very serious consequences on the major market which was the US market at that time. Now if the European market reopens that's very good news, but it's not a very large market. It's not going to open a big market for Vanuatu farmers and anyway the problem in Vanuatu at the moment is not to find new market, is to succeed to supply the local market with good quality and sufficient quantity. I mean if you look at the retail price at present, I mean nowadays on the local market it can go from 500 vatu to 800 vatu per kg if the boat is not coming so that's very very expensive. And the reason why kava is so expensive is because the production is not satisfying the demand. So we do have already in Vanuatu a production problem, in quantities and in quality.
Hilaire Bule: You have kava serve in the European market, and we have shortage of Vanuatu so what is going to be done now?
VL: Well I understand that FAO and PhRMA, these two international organisations are investing in awareness campaign to make sure that farmers understand the quality issue which is a major issue for Vanuatu, the by law farmers should plant only noble varieties and nothing else. And unfortunately they are now growing two-day varieties because they are high yielding and very resistant to drought, but this is the wrong approach. And the other thing that this programmes are investing in, is to pay rich farmers to grow more kava because the market is very demanding. The local market and the existing export markets, the major one at the moment being New Caledonia.
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