The important role and contributions of Kadavu kava farmers to the agriculture sector was emphasized to them during a recent training held at Namuana Village, Kadavu last week.
The training, which focused on innovative farming practices, improving quality and processing, and marketing opportunities for the export of kava was organized with the aim to inform farmers of the current status of the kava industry.
While addressing over 60 training participants, Director Crop Extension, Paula Tuione stressed the importance of farmers working with the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure the continued growth of the sector on the island.
“I would like to reiterate the role of the Ministry in the sustainable development of farmers in achieving a sustainable future, this includes the welfare of individual families and the progress of yaqona farmers in Kadavu, we cannot achieve this alone, therefore your contribution to the way forward is essential.
Farmers were also informed about the different kava varieties, the current export status, and the management of the yaqona dieback disease.
“The training will enlighten and broaden your knowledge on various Kava aspects unknown to you as you will also be able to share your knowledge to other farmers who are present here and those back home to elevate the production of yaqona not only individually but for Kadavu and the nation,” he said.
Yaqona Taskforce Committee members were also present during the training and farmers had the opportunity to meet members of the taskforce who were experts in the kava value chain.
“The Yaqona Taskforce Committee members are the ones driving the Yaqona industry forward and what will be discussed during this training are researched areas within the industry that is relevant in boosting the production of the commodity,” he said.
“Yaqona is the second highest agricultural commodity contributing to the Gross Domestic Product of the country and it is the aim of the Yaqona taskforce to reach previous yaqona production figures that were experienced before and this training will help you to achieve this,” he added.
Yaqona farmer Etuate Buakula of Nasau Village said the training had broadened his knowledge on Yaqona farming; “Something new that I have learned is the Dieback disease and its management and this is one area I believe that needs to be addressed as it determines the continuation of the commodity, if it is not taken care of immediately, it can affect the production level.”
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Ministry of Agriculture and the Kava Taskforce Committee in reaching out to us in Kadavu and driving the need to move the industry forward.
Over the last decade, Fiji’s Kava exports averaged 218tonnes per annum and was valued at FJD$6.6million, with Fiji’s kava export volume in 2017 as compared to 2016 increasing by 52tonnes, an increase of 20 percent from the previous year.
Kadavu is a major kava-growing area with over 80 percent of all households in the province involved in kava farming.
The training was coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Plus Program, the Pacific Community (SPC), Biosecurity Authority of Fiji, University of the South Pacific and Kava Exporters.