With the current coronavirus crisis, which led to international borders closure and high air freight cost, the Vanuatu kava industry is facing a major challenge : to find markets to sell its production.
After the destructive passage of tropical cyclone Pam, in March 2015, and the ensuing kava shortage, locally and abroad, “many kava farmers throughout Vanuatu have increase kava production […] because of the high price of domestic and international markets”, said Michael Louze, a kava exporter and the chairman of Vanuatu Kava Industry Working Group, quoted by the Vanuatu Daily Post.
But the coronavirus pandemic has gone through that and has severely disrupted the “green gold” market as “Vanuatu kava production is currently very high but […] market growth does not match the increasing production “, explained Mr Louze.
As an answer to that economical equation, the Vanuatu kava industry intends to develop new markets. To sell its production. But also to discourage other countries, such as the Solomon Islands, from entering this market. And to ensure that kava prices remain high.
“Our priority now is to focus on market development taking into account the various aspects of it, including quantity demand and have bilateral discussions with potential markets to ensure the price of kava remains high and to maintain the markets”, added Mr Louze.
To that day, the price of dried kava fluctuates between 2,000 to 3,000 vatus (24 to 36 AUD) per kilo depending on the quality of kava. New Caledonia and the United States are two of the majors customers of Vanuatu kava.
- Main photo > Kava plantation in Maui, Hawai / Credits : Forest & Kim Starr