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Kava seen as replacement crop for dying sugar industry

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, Jan. 5, 2009) – Kava is the much-needed catalyst to boost the country’s economy, says Fiji Kava Council chairman Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo.

He said due to the ailing sugar industry, the only hope the country has now is in kava.

The Kadavu chief yesterday said the future looks bright for the kava industry but to gain from the re-opening of the European market, could only be made possible through government support.

"Kava could replace the sugar industry," he said. "It could become a multi-million dollar industry but it is up to government to get this industry up and going."

Ratu Josateki said after consultations between the European Commission and several Pacific Island representatives, a decision had been reached last year to re-open the lucrative kava market.

"An agreement was reached last year to re-open the market. But this was under the condition that we institutionalise ourselves locally to ensure that there would be a strong source market for kava.

"From their side, they would address any lingering questions about the safety of kava. "But this is given to us because at the last meeting, the World Health Organisation has made it clear that kava was safe to consume."

Ratu Josateki said government’s financial support was needed to ensure Fiji captures the European kava markets.

"We had asked for $500,000 from [US$284.500] government in our proposal to the agricultural ministry. Although we have yet to receive any response, we are optimistic that government would support this initiative."

Ratu Josateki also said the European Commission has already injected a $250,000 [US142,000] into its coffers to ensure that the projects proposed at the meeting last year were successfully completed.


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