20 May 2003

Virus causes massive losses to Fiji kava industry

7:29 am on 20 May 2003

Fiji's large kava industry is reported to be losing 50 million US dollars a year because of a virus that is destroying the plants.

The Fiji Times reports that the spread of the kava dieback disease. also known as the cucumber mosaic virus, is expected to worsen and affect the industry more than the recent bans on kava imports placed by European countries.

The disease is reported to be spreading rapidly in all the main kava growing areas of Fiji such as Taveuni, Koro, Cakaudrove and Naitaisiri.

The ministry of agriculture says there are no control measures against the virus except for proper husbandry measures.

But the chairman of the Fiji Kava Council, Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo, has blamed the ministry, saying the disease is not new and it should have developed measures to address the problem.

One report says kava production has declined by 50 percent.