KAVA SHORTAGE BOOSTS PRICES IN VANUATU

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By Esther Tinning

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, May 28) – Luganville town in Vanuatu is currently experiencing a shortage of kava which has resulted in the closure of many small kava bars in the northern town.

[PIR editor’s note: Luganville is a town on the south coast of Espiritu Santo Island in the northern part of Vanuatu.]

It would seem like Minister James Bule’s announcement of the increase of Kava price only comes as a confirmation to many buyers who have already begun using this set price of 1000 vatu per Kilo because many nakamal [kava bar] operators find kava very expensive these days.

In big operating nakamals, the kava price ranges from Vanuatu vatu 400 to Vanuatu vatu 500 [US$3.69 to US$4.62] per Kilo.

Daily Post investigations revealed that too many small nakamal operators find it very expensive when they buy on kilo basis each day. And because they could no longer afford it, it forces them to close down their small business which is the only way they earn an income for their family as they compete with the high standard of living.

Daily Post was informed that many kava sellers in the outer islands of the Northern Province opt to sell their kava to the copra buyers instead of selling it to nakamal operators because of the price they have been offered. This has also contributed to the shortage of the product in the big operating nakamals and many turn to stop supplying kava to small operating nakamal that operate on kilo basis.

The competition of kava prices in the northern town is becoming a game to many buyers as they go out to the rural areas. Daily Post was told that a kava buyer was offered 600 tons of kava in south Santo area yesterday when he asked to buy it at Vanuatu vatu1,100 [US$10.16] per kilo as compared to his two other buyer colleagues who offered to buy at Vanuatu vatu 900 [US$8.31] per kilo. The other two buyers returned into town without buying any single kava.

The increase of kava price, if being strictly implemented for a long time, could have an impact on farmers, buyers and consumers as a whole and perhaps boost the economic growth.

May 31, 2006

Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com

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