Huge Price Hikes In Vanuatu Kava Cause Nakamal Operators To Struggle

More than four-fold increase in green kava prices leads to formation of formal assocation

By Thompson Marango

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 13, 2017) – Kava Bar operators in Port Vila are struggling to stay in business, as the price of green kava per kilo continues to steadily hike in the capital.

Around 100 kava bar operators gathered for an informal meeting this week at Anaburu to discuss their concerns about the price of green kava, which has taken a hike from Vt250 [US$2.27] per kilo to Vt1,100 [US$9.97].

During the meeting, they agreed to set up a formal association that will look into their grievances and negotiate a price that will not only benefit kava farmers but ensure the kava bars can make a profit at the end of the day.

Green kava price now ranges from Vt600 [US$5.44] to Vt1,100 per kilo, forcing kava bars to reduce the quantity per serve and the quality of kava juice.

The main concern from the kava bar operators is the high green kava price is pushing them to reduce the quality of kava by adding more water to their mix than required and reduce the quantity of serve per ‘sel’.

While contributions where made to meet the cost of registering the association with the Vanuatu Financial Service Commission, suggestions have been made for the association to negotiate some standard price with farmers.

Taking into consideration the cost of bringing kava to town and the role of “middle man” between farmers and bar operators, the meeting heard that different prices should be set for kava brought in by ships, and plane from other islands and kava planted in Efate.

Proposals from those present was Vt700 [US$6.35] per kilo of kava transported to Vila via ships, kava flown to Vila by plane would cost Vt800 [US$7.25], and kava from Efate should cost Vt500 [US$4.53].

Meanwhile, a kava farmer from Pentecost who was present during the meeting later told Daily Post that for the sake of fairness farmers should be consulted about the step taken by kava bar operators.

He added that the cost of bringing kava to Vila has also increase over the years.

The kava farmer informed that it cost Vt1,000 [US$9.07] to bring one kava bag from the garden to the coast or to the airport.

Shipping is the most commonly used transport to bring kava to Port Vila and freighting cost currently ranges from Vt3,000 [US$27.20] to Vt4,000 [US$36.26] per bag.

It cost Vt500 to Vt1,000 to transport one bag of kava from the wharf in Port Vila to the market.

There are hundreds of kava bars in Port Vila and the surrounding areas on which many families rely on for income to afford basic necessities , including school fees.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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