At 4pm yesterday the Minister of Agriculture, Matai Seremaiah, authorized the renewal of kava export licenses for 2020 to exporters, as well as endorsing the agreement by kava exporters to set the minimum price of kava at Vt2,000 per kilogram.
It was agreed that kava exporters must not buy kava from the farmers at a price less than Vt2,000. This was sealed with the endorsement of Minister Seremaiah.
A total of 29 kava exporters from Vanuatu attended the meeting to discuss the kava price yesterday and Minister Seremaiah flew in from Santo to be present at the meeting which was directed by the ministry’s Director General, Moses Amos.
Heated arguments developed amongst exporters and at times directed at the ministry of agriculture officials on the pricing of kava in Vanuatu.
But in the end all kava exporters agreed through consensus for the minimum price to be set at Vt2,000 per kilogram.
Many kava exporters expressed concern over what they called ‘middle buyers’ whom they blame as the dealers that were responsible for the drop of kava price, renewal of licenses put on hold by the ministry and as a result, the calling of the meeting.
The exporters left the meeting with sighs of relief when Minister Seremaiah stood up before closing the meeting and announced that he has now instructed the Director of Biosecurity to go ahead and renew export licenses to all kava exporters.
However, he cautioned that should it transpire that an exporter does not comply with the agreed pricing, he will exercise powers conferred upon him to revoke the export license of such a buyer.
The meeting heard that there are 26,000 kava growers in Vanuatu.
“Cultivation of kava is reserved only for Ni-Vanuatu,” minister Matai Seremaiah reminded kava exporters during the meeting.
He said the government does not want to meddle in the business of kava, except to protect the interest of the farmers and ensure kava farmers receive a fair price for their product.