18 Mar 2008

Tongan kava producer eyes Asian and American markets

4:31 pm on 18 March 2008

A kava manufacturer in Tonga is setting its sights on Asia and America as its main markets for kava exports.

The European Union imposed bans on kava in 2001 claiming it is toxic - and Australia has a ban on imports of kava, except for medicinal or scientific purposes.

Bill Sanft is from Morpheus Pharmaceuticals in Tonga and currently produces a small quantity of 'kava tea' for the local market.

He says there's a lucrative market for the kava product, and they're hoping to have factories in China and the US by the end of the year.

"There's a lot of people who I can see will be using kava in the future all over the world as an alternative to drugs such as valium, halceon and all the rest of the anti-depressants, anti-anxiety pills. Kava is good because what goes in, goes out - nothing sticks in your liver like the other drugs."

Bill Sanft says their kava tea is good for those suffering from stress and insomnia.