Delivered by Mr Apaitia Veiogo, Director Operations and Officer in Charge of the Pacific Islands Forum
at the Regional Kava Development Strategy Consultations – Fiji National Consultation
16 September 2022
Vinesh Kumar – Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture;
Seema Sharma – Director – Trade for the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport;
Development Partners and CROP Agencies;
Members of the Private Sector and Kava Stakeholders;
Members of Civil Society Organisations;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Ni sa bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all,
The wide representation this morning is indeed encouraging, as it represents on the wider stakeholders engagement and stand on the importance of the Regional Kava Development Strategy and its potential for the future of our Pacific economies.
As we are aware, kava constitutes a significant share of total export value for many of our Pacific countries. In 2020, Vanuatu saw FJD49.2m in kava exports with over 20,000 households planting the commodity. This has ranked kava as one of the top exports of Vanuatu, even surpassing coconut oil, copra and other export products. The kava industry has similarly been growing to a standard of revitalization and prominence in other Forum Island Countries such as Samoa (FJD$164,000), Tonga (FJD$9.4m), the Solomon Islands (FJD$278) and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) (FJD.$1.5m).
For Fiji, as one of the top producers of kava in the region, exports have grown from FJD$32.5m in 2019 to FJD$43.6m in 2020 with over 21,000 kava farms, making the sector vital to Fiji’s economy, after ginger and taro.
This discussions on Kava were brought back to the attention of the Forum Trade Ministers in February 2020, and again July 2021, where Trade Ministers approved the concept note for the development Regional Kava Strategy. Following the meeting in July, the Government of Vanuatu in partnership with Forum Secretariat, SPC, ITC, the OACPS, WIPO, PHAMA-Plus and European Union Delegation in Suva organized a Virtual Regional Kava Conference to discuss and consider priority areas to be included in the Regional Strategy.
The purpose of the consultation today is to listen and receive your valued feedback on key priority areas to be included in the development of the Strategy. What would be the main challenges in developing your kava legislative frameworks; protection of kava as Pacific good, marketing and promotion of kava; standards, quality, value addition, diversification, import, export and finally labelling issues to meet the international markets requirements?
Esteemed guests, the comprehensive development of a regional kava strategy, which takes into account the needs and aspirations of all our stakeholders, both public and private, will ensure that the protection of kava is secure as it engages the global market with a more unified approach.
Therefore, with these brief remarks, I encourage all of our stakeholders present today to have a constructive discussions and provide your feedback. I am certain that we will be able to produce valuable outcomes today that will complement the challenges and priorities of our other Pacific countries as we progress towards the endorsement and eventual implementation of this strategy.
Thank you and Vinaka vakalevu.