Government is targeting to assist 10,000 yaqona farmers by the end of 2022 in recognition of the significant foreign exchange earnings it rakes into the Fijian economy.
This was stated by Principal Agriculture Officer (Policy) Mr. Akuila Nacoke while opening the two-day Quality Standard Farmers Training for kava farmers in Saolo Village, in the district of Wainunu, Bua on Wednesday (2.9.20).
Speaking in iTaukei, Mr. Nacoke said Fiji earned $32.4m in kava export earnings from 18 countries while between 2015 and 2019 the commodity was exported to 41 countries.
He said this showed there was a market available; Fiji’s market share could grow; and kava farmers needed to grow more.
Mr. Nacoke added that this was the reason why the kava industry was important to Government and the latter listed was one of its priorities under the five-year National Development Plan to be achieved in two years’ time.
He said Government had implemented measures to ensure this target was met through the continuing Yaqona Farming Program budgeted at $250,000 for the current financial year.
He highlighted that the Ministry of Agriculture had also aligned its priorities to reflect that of the National Goals by providing assistance that targeted kava farmers such as land preparation; providing organic manure, planting and farm house materials; building farm access roads; and technical advice.
Mr. Nacoke urged the 100-plus kava farmers who attended the first day of training to learn as much as they could and make the necessary changes in terms of farming practices, increasing their plant yield, and reducing their consumption.
On day one, farmers learnt the scientific aspect of the kava plant such as its agronomic characteristics, plant protection methods, and the analysis of lab tests.
Farmers also heard from the trade private sector where exporter experiences were shared from Lami Kava, Fiji Kava, and Green Gold.
A session on trade regulatory requirements was also held where the University of the South Pacific, Ministry of Health, Biosecurity Authority of Fiji, and Ministry of Agriculture officers made presentations.
Sessions on trade overview and kava co-operative concluded day one of training from officers in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fiji Crop and Livestock Council, and a consultant.
Day Two includes presentations on the current legislations in place, the requirements from Fiji Revenue Customs Service, financial literacy to assist farmers, information sharing from kava development partners such as the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Program and Fiji National Provident Fund on voluntary contributions, and finally a SWOT session on the way forward.