Since the Department of Livestock is successfully organising a cattle restocking programme to register 500,000 heads by 2025, why can’t the Department of Agriculture also organise a Noble Variety Kava Restocking Programme?
The newly appointed Director of Agriculture, Antoine Ravo is speaking from the top of his head to also organise a kava restocking programme because he says the country is currently running short of kava.
He says it does not make sense to export kava when kava farmers cannot even satisfy the local market demand.
The Director has shared his plan with farmers in the first ever meeting between farmers and the Department’s technical staff this week.
Shefa Agricultural Officer, Willie Yau, says there is not enough room to expand new nurseries at Tagabe.
The Director is asking farmers to work in partnership with the Department to do their own nurseries on their farms. “We can supply you with poly bags and technical advice and you go ahead to organise your own nurseries.
A nursery of any noble variety of kava takes approximately three months to grow before kava plants can be transferred to a kava farm proper. "A farmer who has a network with kava farmers in the islands in turn supplies kava plants from his nursery to feed the small farmers who in turn farm kava for his market", he recommends.
A kava farmer from Ambae has expressed concern over the future of melomelo kava on his island saying young people seem to be drinking more kava than planting new cuttings for replacement. “People are more interested in harvesting kava than planting more crops and this is not right," he says.
With not enough kava to go around, it means the retail price per kilo of ‘melomelo’ kava from Ambae is increasing towards Vt1,000 per kilo here in Port Vila. “I have to buy my kava at the price for my window because there is no other way. We are short of kava in Port Vila," a window owner from Ohlen says.