Vila Times

Kava industry welcomes Australian trial of commercial imports

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By Liam Fox on Pacific Beat

Members of the Pacific’s kava industry are ecstatic after the Australian government announced a trial of the commercial importation of kava will start by the end of next year.

“This is great news,” said Michael Louze, head of the Vanuatu Kava Industry Association.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the trial of commercial imports last Friday during a visit to Fiji where it was warmly welcomed by his counterpart Frank Bainimarama.

He also confirmed that an existing proposal to increase the amount of kava that people can bring into the country for personal use from two to four kilograms will be in place by the end of this year.

The news regarding commercial imports came as a surprise to many in the Pacific as the government had appeared to have ruled out any prospect of large amounts of kava ever being allowed into Australia.

“Earlier this year we only had the discussion about the personal consignment increase and it was very disappointing for all of us,” Mr Louze said.

“Talking about a commercial pilot is a great step forward”.

Mr Louze said access to the Australian market would be a boon to Vanuatu’s kava farmers who are currently enjoying high prices for their produce.

“We are securing a market, and a very good market because it’s very close to us … it’s potentially a huge market”.