A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
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Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Posted 1:57 PM by Luigi
Vanuatu kava floods Fiji market?
Story reprinted from the Fiji Times (Tuesday, July 27, 2004)
KAVA importers in Fiji are flooding the local market with Vanuatu kava, buying it for as little as $6 per kg and reselling it here for more than $20 per kg. And Fiji Kava Council chairman Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo said they were investigating allegations that a banned brand called Tudei kava had infiltrated our market.
"Some kava drinkers in Noumea and Port Vila are complaining that they have been drinking substandard kava which is believed to be the banned brand which some exporters are sneaking into consignments. At the moment they are allegations but we would like to ensure that everything is checked to put the matter to rest once and for all."
He said 10 tonnes (10,000 kg) of Vanuatu kava had been entering the Fiji market every month. Ratu Josateki flew to Vanuatu last week to discuss the issue with government officials there. "This is undercutting our local growers and depriving them of money that should rightfully be theirs," he said.
"Their products are already neglected as they are and we are seeing daylight robbery in front of our own eyes. How can our people in the rural areas rise up out of poverty if the market that is supposed to be theirs is taken up by some cheap product from outside."
Ratu Josateki said as a result of this influx the quality of kava in Fiji had dropped significantly. "I warned them that we would have to seriously consider banning Vanuatu kava unless quality standards are controlled and scrutinised."
However, Ratu Josateki said Vanuatu kava was filling a vacuum, which Fiji farmers were failing to achieve. "My warning goes out to our farmers to stop relaxing and start mobilising your fields as we are anticipating a flood gate of requests should the Germans clear kava as being a safe drug towards the end of the year," he said.
"And if they cannot satisfy the local market how can they expect to satisfy the international one. There are studies which show some properties of kava identified as a drug that could in the future be used as treatment for cancer and other diseases - but the studies are ongoing. If that is true - then our growers are leaving a goldmine idle and wasted - unless they start to do the hard work."
Ratu Josateki said the Vanuatu Kava Council and Fiji quarantine officials would work hand in hand to ensure that all imports underwent thorough checks before being allowed into the market. He was in Vanuatu to discuss a replacement for the late Frank King, who was Vanuatu's representative on the International Kava Executive Council (IKEC). Ratu Josateki is co-chair of the council, which is funded by the European Union and is based in Brussels. He delivered a letter to the Prime Minister's Office in Vanuatu to invite the Prime Minister to attend the council's (IKEC) conference in Suva between November 20 and December 3.
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