Commercial nursery to boost sustainable supply of kava

Fiji Kava Ltd, an Australian-Fijian medicinal kava company producing natural ‘noble kava’ products, has commissioned a new commercial kava nursery at Tutu Rural Training Centre (Tutu) in Taveuni to strengthen its supply chain in Fiji. Picture: SUPPLIED/PHAMA Plus

Fiji Kava Ltd, an Australian-Fijian medicinal kava company producing natural ‘noble kava’ products, has commissioned a new commercial kava nursery at Tutu Rural Training Centre (Tutu) in Taveuni to strengthen its supply chain in Fiji.

The nursery is a co-investment by long-standing partners Fiji Kava and the Australia and New Zealand supported Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Plus Program (PHAMA Plus).

The investment sees the establishment of an innovative and more efficient model for the supply of high-quality noble kava plant varieties, centered around a commercial plant nursery service ‘hub’ at Tutu.

The commercial kava nursery supports rapid, disease-free multiplication of the noble varieties that are required to service export markets.  The ‘hub’ also aims to provide technical support and training to younger farmers, men and women working in the kava sector, with a particular emphasis on sustainability and climate smart farming practices

“By having access to better quality and the right variety of kava planting materials, village-based kava farmers who are enrolled at the Tutu Rural Training Centre, majority of whom are youths, will be able to produce the export variety of kava in large volumes to Fiji Kava,” Fiji Kava Founder and Director Zane Yoshida said.

“Not only will it have major sustainability benefits of kava for the industry, but also continue to provide Fiji Kava with a unique differentiator and leading edge over its competitors as we experience growth in our domestic and international markets.’’

The collection hub also introduces a number of innovative supply chain approaches, involving co-ownership by the kava suppliers, access to training, financial literacy and a micro-credit facility through Fiji Kava’s newly formed tripartite partnership with Tutu Rural Training Centre and the iTaukei Trust Fund Board. This partnership was launched on Thursday 23 June 2022 in Taveuni coinciding with the commissioning of the commercial nursery officiated by Permanent Secretary for iTaukei Affairs and Board chief executive officer Pita Tagicakirewa.

“Kava is a major growth industry in Fiji and supports the livelihoods of many Fijians” said Australian High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes.

“This new initiative, supported by Australia, will ensure the industry can continue to meet growing demand for high-quality kava in Fiji and overseas, and will provide benefits to both exporters and Fijian farming households.”

PHAMA Plus Country Manager for Fiji Navitalai Tuivuniwai said this underscored the priority PHAMA Plus work in Fiji – to help improve the quality and sustainability of kava production and encourage younger farmers and women to enter the business.

“By working with an established leader in the Fijian kava industry like Fiji Kava, we are able to more effectively progress the significant export opportunities that exist for noble kava to the benefit of both exporters and Fijian farming households,” Mr Tuivuniwai said.

“This also presents export opportunities with the Australian Kava Commercial Pilot that is allowing commercial imports of kava into Australia. The flow on from the demand of this new market to Australia is expected to benefit our vuvale (family), particularly farming households who supply to exporters like Fiji Kava.”

PHAMA Plus provides support to Fiji’s kava industry by working with exporters such as Fiji Kava, growers and Fijian government agencies including the Fiji Kava Taskforce to improve quality assurance systems and standards to ensure market access and a sustainable and profitable export industry.

PHAMA Plus is currently assisting Fijian kava exporters to better understand the Australian market and the export processes and requirements under the Commercial Kava Pilot.

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