Australia to import Vanuatu kava

The Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Bob Loughman, has announced Australia will trial importing kava from Vanuatu.

Prime Minister Loughman made the announcement this week on Vanuatu’s Pentecost Island while launching the island’s first tar sealed road project.

The Prime Minister said he made the announcement on Pentecost because the island is one of Vanuatu’s leading kava suppliers.

“COVID-19 has affected the kava industry and many kava businesses are impacted,” Prime Minister Loughman said.

“I have written to the Australian Government to ask them to help us to respond to these impacts on our kava industry, and the Australian Government has said it will conduct a trial project to import Vanuatu kava.”

Prime Minister Loughman appealed to the people of Pentecost, Ambae, Malekula and Santo to plant more kava.

“We have to provide quality kava and be able to meet demand otherwise it will affect the agreement we have with Australia to import Vanuatu kava,” he said.

“I appeal to all young people to double the number of kava plants they cultivate. If you have been growing 1000 kava plants, this year you should plant 2000 kava.

“The Government is behind this initiative and is working to improve road access to facilitate the transportation of kava to Port Vila.”

The Chinese Government is financing the 55-kilometre VT8 million Pentecost Road Project through a loan and a grant.

The Prime Minister says he believes the people of Pentecost could help to pay back the loan from the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of China.

He says an increase in Pentecost’s kava production will assist with the loan repayments.

In 2020, Vanuatu’s Bureau of Standards reported the export value of Vanuatu’s kava was continuing to increase – with a tenfold increase since 2014.

The bureau said in the first four months of 2019, kava exports were valued at VT1255 million, which was more than the total value for 2016 and 2017

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