Vanuatu Researcher Hopes For Kava Export Growth

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

End of EU sanctions puts onus on growers to follow regulations

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 12, 2015) – A kava researcher in Vanuatu has welcomed the lifting of sanctions against kava in Europe, 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 markets like the United States and New Caledonia.

Dr Lebot says the responsibility now rests on local farmers to comply with national regulations which ban the cultivation of the more potent strains of kava, known as two-day kava because the effects are said to last for 48 hours.

"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."

Dr Lebot says the Food and Agriculture Organisation is running a programme to try and convince farmers to cultivate only these 'noble' varieties of kava.

Vanuatu has over 60 varieties of kava.

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