26 May 2006

Price of Kava in Vanuatu increases

6:49 am on 26 May 2006

Vanuatu's Minister of Trade and Commerce James Bule has announced the price for kava has increased to one hundred US dollars a kilo.

The new price has been welcomed by kava farmers who have complained of being ripped off by middlemen since before 1998 when the price first reached $100 per kilo.

Soon after that the price dropped when the European market banned kava claiming it caused lung cancer, a claim, which was dropped only recently.

Following the ban Vanuatu continued to export kava to Fiji and New Caledonia.

But Mr Bule says the problem was that buyers would pay as little as $30 from the farmers then sell it at very high price to the lucrative kava market in New Caledonia.

Meanwhile the Minister has rejected criticisms that re-prescribing kava under the Vanuatu Commodities Marketing Board has given the government monopoly over kava exports saying other kava export licence holders are still allowed to export.

Mr Bule says they have prescribed kava to distance middlemen from the farmers so that they can now receive maximum benefit from their kava.