Kava is a significant commodity for us in the Pacific Islands.

For Fiji, much of our rich history, cultural events and traditions are rooted in kava as it carries important value for our region culturally, socially and economically.

These were the remarks by the Assistant Minister at the Office of the Prime Minister, Sakiusa Tubuna whilst delivering his opening address at a panel discussion session on “Pacific Kava – Rooting the industry in exports” at the Pacific Week of Agriculuture and Forestry (PWAF) currently underway at the Sofitel Resort in Denarau, Nadi this week.

“Today, the interest in Kava is not exclusive to Pacifc People. Theres been a transition over the past few decades, where the plant has become a growing export commodity. We’ve seen this pacific plant go beyond being a cultural beverage – with kava-infused food and even entry into pharmaceuticals”, Assistant Minister Tubuna added.

“In 2021, Fiji exported $41.9million (US$20.95 million) worth of Kava making it one of the largest agricultural exports. There are challenges that we acknowledge and are working to address and this varies across the region. Promoting sustainable kava production is one area that we are focused on to avoid deforestation and degradation.”

“Despite the negative impacts on exports of Kava due to COVID-19, we are moving towards recovery. This was possible because many of us sitting in here and those that came before us worked tirelessly across all sectors to boost the recognition of kava as a mainstay commodity The recent achievement of exports to Australia is a testament to this work.”

As of September 2022, a total of 114 Fiji exporters were registered and have access to permits in the Australian market.

“We can grow this industry and Australia was only the first-step there are potential major markets that we can target and as the Pacific, a regional effort will only strengthen this further,” Assistant Minister Tubuna stated.

Assistant Minister Tubuna acknowledged the work undertaken by the SPC and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) in collobration with Pacific governments, relevant stakeholders and partners in working towards a regional strategy on Kava.

He also acknowledged its development partner and donors such as the European Union who funded the event through the SAFE Pacific project.

In marking International Womens Day Wednesday, Assistant Minister Tubuna acknowledged the women in the Agriculture and Forestry industry and stated that the industry can progress faster if it is inclusive and utilises the strength of the full Pacific community, of which women make up at least half of the population.