Kava export returns jumped 800% after Cyclone Pam

In Vanuatu, there are strict laws over the export of kava. Only “noble” kava varieties are allowed to be exported. Photo: Vanuatu Kava Wholesalers

By Jonas Cullwick

Kava export returns in 2015 after Tropical Cyclone devastated parts of Vanuatu as it trekked through the country on March 12, 13 and 14 reached Vt180 million. One year later, in 2016, the figure jumped to Vt800 million, according to the Director of Biosecurity Vanuatu, Timothy Tumukon.

Responding to questions from Kizzy Kalsakau host of 96 BuzzFM’s Vanuatu Nightly News program if government was helping farmers grow more kava after cyclone Pam, Tumukon responded: “Most definitely.”

To quantify his statement, Tumukon added that: “In 2015 when the cyclone struck us 2 years exactly today (Monday) you’re exactly right, our export data was that Vanuatu then earned Vt180 million from its export after Cyclone Pam destroyed most of our kava.

“Last year’s figures stood at Vt800 million that was earned from kava.

“Now that gives us a lot of comfort that kava has recovered since cyclone Pam,” he further added.

He said that to maintain the momentum, the government right now was looking at strengthening its assistance to rural communities along with the PHAMA Program to establish testing facilities and also to establish kava nurseries so that it can distribute planting material to areas where you don’t have enough planting materials for farmers to plant.

The Director of Biosecurity Vanuatu said Government is discussing this with the Department of Agriculture for the Government to provide additional funding to establish nurseries on islands where farmers would like to increase their production of kava. There are also awareness materials being sent out to farmers as to what kava varieties they should be planting and also how they should be preparing their products for their market.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

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