16 Aug 2007

Fiji's kava association says Australia's ban discriminates Pacific communities there

8:59 am on 16 August 2007

The chairman of Fiji's Kava Association says Australia's ban on imports of the crop discriminates against Pacific communities living there.

The ban is on imports of kava, except for medicinal or scientific purposes, and incoming passengers are allowed to bring in up to 2kgs.

Australia moved to tighten its import restrictions on kava, citing kava abuse and associated health problems in Aboriginal communities.

Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo, who is also a member of the International Kava Executive Council says kava is a valuable commodity.

He says many people drink it socially who suffer no ill-effects, and studies prove kava is safe.

"And you can well imagine of the 250,000 people and adults, who take regularly to drinking kava as a social drink on a regular basis, that means they've lost the supply of this commodity as well as the Abo community. So for us, its very unfair."

Ratu Josateki says that the ban will cost Pacific countries who grow kava, up to 20 million US dollars in lost trade, a year.