The FUTURE of kava

Yoshida looks to Ovalau as market key

OVALAU, Fiji (Invictus News Service) – In the sleepy little town of Ovalau, once capital of Fiji and a pivotal Pacific port, an ancient crop is emerging as a potential game changer for island economies. Kava as it is known across the region is being processed in a small factory just metres from the oldest hotel in the region and turned into a drink consumed in bars as far away as the United States.

The Yoshida family – of Japanese heritage – owns the hotel and its scion, Zane, is the brains behind Taki Mai, a line of kava products in powder and drink form. Already Yoshida has influenced changes in Fiji’s kava industry which have seen several regional countries work together to seek endorsement of the Quality Standard of Kava from the Rome-based Codex Commission of the Food and Agriculture Authority.

The endorsement will open up billions of dollars in possible export revenue for Pacific countries – especially Fiji and Vanuatu who currently lead exports and are collaborating on a common standard for growers and exporters. Yoshida knows it may take some time for endorsement – insiders say four years at the most – and that the industry must take advantage of the delay to standardise processes.

“As you know in Fiji, we are now working towards the implementation of our own kava standard and quality manual and finalisation of the Kava Bill,” Yoshida said. “The key is to now ensure we develop a sustainable platform to cater for the rapidly growing demand for kava and then it is upwards and onwards for the kava industry.”

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