HIGH along and beneath the ridges above Fiji’s Old Capital from where defiant Fijian warriors once fought the encroaching West, reconciliation is taking place – thanks to a plant that is changing lives. Reknown for their warfare tactics against the colonial government forces aided by the Fijian chief Ratu Seru Cakobau in the late 1800s, descendants of the people on this volcanic island are implementing a new strategy to embrace the world and its markets.
Yaqona (Piper methysticum) or kava as it’s commonly known around the world and, used in traditional Fijian ceremonies to celebrate birth, extending marriage proposals, death, and as a unifying token of peace and reconciliation, is inspiring farmers to a new beginning. It is becoming more lucrative for farmers on this island and others in this Pacific archipelago as more kava markets spring open around the world.
Etuate Draunidalo, 66, a Lovoni villager whose forefathers opposed settlers and their new ways on Ovalau, said they envisioned their future in kava. “I think we now have the answer to it,” Draunidalo, the biggest kava farmer on the island, told Islands Business. “The birth of new ideas, innovation and techniques in this industry are taking our product to places we never dreamt we could reach before.”
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