The Ministry of Agriculture’s assistance through the facilitation and recent opening of a kava processing shed and pounding machine at Vunisea, Kadavu has been praised by kava farmers on the island.
Kadavu Kava Farmers’ Co-operative Limited (KKFCL) Chairman Roko Seru Nabalarua said the project has strengthened farmers’ passion for the industry on the island as they were in desperate need of the newly commissioned shed and machine.
“We would often find ourselves stuck in situations that were beyond our control and as we progressed with our yaqona farming, there were setbacks that affected the consistency of our production and supply,” he said.
“We have experienced problems such as the transportation of yaqona to the mainland due to irregular shipping schedules and services, and another problem was the unpredictable cost of doing business between farmers and the middlemen, with fluctuating prices in the market resulting in inconsistent returns,” he added.
With the new facility, Nabalarua said the load on farmers would be relieved as it would put some of their doubts to rest.
“The idea of establishing a Kadavu Kava group began in 2016 when discussions on the way forward was held during various district meetings and it became fruitful in 2017 with the involvement of the Ministry of Agriculture following consent from all the districts,” he said.
“We are here witnessing the trials and sacrifices each of us has made and that is the opening of the pounding shed, we can testify to the commitment the Ministry of Agriculture has towards the development of outer islands and we’re very grateful.”
The development assistance which was worth $210,000.00 is part of the Rural and Outer Islands Program (ROI) under the Ministry of Agriculture. The processing shed and pounding machine, which will be managed by the KKFCL will oversee the pounding and processing of kava from members and farmers on the island.
“The facility will open up new opportunities for us and will be another way of circulating revenue within Kadavu and is a way of giving back to the island, contributing to the vision for a better Kadavu through our kava production,” Nabalarua.
The opening of the facility was witnessed by the District representatives, Government Officials, representatives of Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Plus Program, Yaqona Taskforce Committee members, Kadavu Kava Committee members and yaqona farmers.