7 Apr 2008

Fiji kava growers told about export optimism

1:26 pm on 7 April 2008

The head of Fiji's kava council says there is renewed optimism among kava farmers and exporters.

Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo says the council is likely to get funds from the European Union and China to set up quality controls on the crop for export.

He says it is another step towards getting the EU to lift its kava ban that was put in place in 2001 over fears pharmaceutical products made from kava were toxic.

A World Health Organisation study has found that kava in its raw form is safe.

Ratu Josateki says kava is again increasingly popular among consumers.

"Currently we aren't even able to meet the domestic demands - such that we are also importing from Vanuatu. But again as I said, we are now encouraging our farmers to increase production again because of demands anticipated from international markets and again from demands from the domestic market itself."

Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo says a meeting is planned for July with EU officials and kava stakeholders.