Papua New Guinea has the potential to surpass Fiji and Vanuatu in kava exports, which is becoming a multi-million Kina commodity, said International Trade and Investment Minister, Richard Maru.
Maru said that kava was fast becoming a thriving cash crop for farmers in Fiji and Vanuatu.
He said the global kava market was expected to exceed US$210 billion (about K791 billion) by 2026.
“Kava has led to the empowerment of communities (in Fiji and Vanuatu) through the supply chain, creating sustainable incomes, and improving livelihoods,” he said.
“As import regulations ease and international demand grows, exciting opportunities for Pacific Island businesses to enter new markets grow.
“In 2020, Fijian kava exports were worth more than A$43.6 million (about K112 million/US$30.1 million).
In 2019, Vanuatu’s kava exports were worth A$48.4 million (about K117 million/US$32 million).
“These figures are set to grow in coming years, making this industry a booming one.
“The commodity is known to have medicinal capabilities including as a relaxant.
“Because of its associated relaxing benefits and the removal of trade restrictions in many countries, the demand for kava has increased.
“Thousands of smallholder farmers across the region are now engaged in kava production.”
Maru said that the Government would consider developing kava as an industry and undertake multi-cropping with kava planted under cocoa trees to use the land so farmers could make money from cocoa and kava.
He was told by two Fijians who attended the World Indigenous Business Forum in Port Moresby recently that the demand for kava in Fiji and the Pacific had outgrown supply.
According to a recent Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Programme (Phama) report, one in eight rural households were involved in kava cultivation. In Vanuatu, an estimated 30,000 households are involved in its cultivation.