Vanuatu’s Agriculture Minister and leading members of the country’s kava industry have renewed a call for Australia to remove its ban on kava imports.
The Australian government banned the importation of kava for commercial use over a decade ago to stop it being abused in Indigenous communities, Pacific Beat reports. But with kava prices booming, the government and industry figures say access to Australia would bring huge benefits to farmers.
There is a region wide shortage of kava that caused prices to sky rocket. Farmers who have been able to grow and harvest the crop are making big money. Kava has been called “green gold” by some. Vanuatu’s Agriculture Minister Matai Seremaiah said some in Vanuatu have been struck by “green gold fever.”
“We have seen situations when students are leaving schools just to plant kava. It’s crazy here. In Santo people are buying Land Cruisers with cash.”
Booming prices has reinforced the view that kava has huge potential for export not only for Vanuatu but other Pacific island countries. But one of the biggest potential markets for Pacific kava, Australia, remains closed. Matai Seremaiah said he would like to see Australia reopened for commercial kava exports.
“I’m not is a position to put a strong word on that, but we would be very happy if we could sell kava to Australia. But, again, we need to work a lot on our production,” Minister said.