The National Kava Replanting Programme theme of ‘Respect Noble Kava, Protect Market’ is everybody’s business and not just the Government.
This is a part of the message delivered by the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALLFB), Matai Seremaiah while launching the day-long replanting programme for all noble kava varieties on the Yumi Go Stage at Tagabe Agriculture Training Centre yesterday.
To all stakeholders, he says MALFFB is working on a bill to declare kava a reserved crop for ni Vanuatu farmers which means if a non-ni Vanuatu farmer wants to plant kava, he or she must apply for a permit.
Recently the minister was in Fiji where he saw how foreign mass producers of kava have swallowed up Fijian small kava farmers on both domestic and export markets.
MALFFB and the Government will do all they can to help protect the ‘green gold’ for ni Vanuatu farmers but the Minister says, all stakeholders must make sure that they too play their part to deal in only noble kava for both local consumption as well as export.
“The Government will play its role to help you but you must also play yours to sustain and protect the market, to make sure only noble kava is planted and processed”, he says.
The minister joins Santo prominent kava farmer Peter Napuat to stress, “Do not serve someone food that you do not eat or drink that you do not drink”.
In other words, deal only in noble kava and respect the market by using only noble kava.
But the minister says people in the industry do not believe kava farmers will be able to sustain the market. “But I am confident in you the farmers that you are capable of sustaining it so please play your role because the Government is playing its role to help you”, the Minister urges.
On the other hand he says, if kava farmers should fail sustain the market then the Government would have no choice but to reopen the market for other people to come in to help sustain it.
The bill when passed will help to also protect island cabbage, Chinese cabbage, noni and and other local crops as reserved crops.
The minister also thanks the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) for initiating the idea of ‘Kava Fest’ to be organised during Fest Napuan in October this year. It will be the first such kava celebration in the world.
He says a Primary Producers Bill also is going before parliament this year. “We need partnership in the kava industry and I thank VTO for initiating Kava Fest”, he says.
The idea behind Kava Fest is to educate people about kava, especially visitors how to enjoy a noble kava drink and learn the truth about Vanuatu, a country with just over 250,000 people as the cradle of kava in the world.
“Let us work together to respect, promote and sustain our noble kava and not sell rubbish kava, as we travel the path of noble kava to protect the market. It is the responsibility for everyone to protect the market to make sure only noble kava is exported”, concludes the minister.