VANUATU BOARD SUSPENDS KAVA DEALINGS

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (December 8, 1997 - PACNEWS)---Vanuatu's main commodities dealer, Vanuatu Commodities Marketing Board (VCMB), has suspended all purchases of kava.

The General Manager of VCMB, Brownie Reuben, says acquisition of kava from local producers has been terminated until further notice, Radio Vanuatu reports.

Reuben says the decision was made following complaints that Vanuatu's kava exports, especially to markets in the United States, were contaminated. He says these complaints have led to a decline in the market overseas for Vanuatu kava.

All dealings in the product have been suspended, the VCMB manager says, until the quality issue is sorted out.

Meanwhile, Kava Store, the main local buyer in Port Vila has indicated it will begin reducing by 50 percent annually the amount of kava it buys from Vanuatu’s major producing island, Pentecost. Manager Charlot Long Wah says the goal is for local producers to better control the quality of their produce.

Kava Store now buys a total of 700 tons of kava annually from Pentecost.

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