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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, July 2) – The Australian government's ban on the importation of kava is uncalled for, says Fiji Kava Council chairman Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo.

He labelled as unjust the criticism that kava was the root cause of social problems in remote Aboriginal communities.

The Australian government announced earlier this week that it would restrict the commercial importation of kava because of the dire health situation in a number of indigenous communities.

The ban allows adult travellers to Australia to enter with a maximum of two kilograms of kava in their accompanied baggage for personal use.

Mr Nawalowalo said the announcement was a blow to an already weak economy in Fiji and would inflict loss of income to our already fragile rural farmers and subsequently increase poverty across the country.

"The announcement of the importation of kava to Australia for medical and scientific purposes is positive news for Fiji and the Pacific Islands who are dependant on their kava industry as a major source of income generation," he said.

Australia's High Commissioner to Fiji James Batley said excessive and inappropriate use of kava had been identified in a number of indigenous communities in Australia, leading to severe health effects.

"The Australian government has a duty to address this issue and has therefore decided to enforce regulations which restrict importation of kava to medical and scientific purposes only," Mr Batley said.

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