Vanuatu and Fiji call for kava quota hike

By: Anish Chand

 The Governments of Vanuatu and Fiji are asking that any foreign traveler to Australia be allowed to bring up to 10 kilograms of kava into the country with them.

Australia currently permits 2kg per traveler and is currently reviewing a proposal to increase the quota to 4kg per person.

However, in their submissions to the Office of the Office of Drug Control, Fiji is proposing a quota of 10kg per person and Vanuatu suggests a per person quota of maximum 15kg.

“The Government of Vanuatu does not believe 4kg will be a suitable quantity for personal use,” Director General of Foreign Affairs Kalfau Kaloris said in his submission.

The Vanuatu Government submission adds kava continues to play an important role in the South Pacific diaspora now residing overseas.

“4kg does not make a lot of kava at all. For a large ceremony this would not be sufficient. Because kava can only be brought in for personal consumption, and if there is not someone flying in recently, then it is not possible to provide kava at a ceremony,” the Vanuatu Government had submitted.

Vanuatu argues kava trade is important to its people, saying more than 20000 livelihoods depend on the industry.

“The Government of Vanuatu believes therefore that the Government of Australia should reconsider its position on the 4kg kava and have options to increase the quantity to 10, 15 or 20kgs, which would have positive impacts for personal and ceremonial use,” the submission states.

Fiji has made a similar submission, stating kava is “consumed by a group of individuals or communities at a meeting or gatherings or kava sessions”.

“An increase from 2kgs to 10kgs of kava imported for personal use is considered more appropriate to test whether the pilot program has achieved its objectives including to identify key strengths and weaknesses (gaps) for further consideration and discussion,” David Kolitagane, Permanent Secretary for Agriculture said in the submission.

“On the social front, the increased quantity would enable Fijians and the Pacific Islander communities in Australia in carrying out their ceremonial, cultural and social traditions and obligations which leads to communal acceptance and fostering greater traditional relationships in the manner of the occasion,” reads the Fiji Government submission.

Limits on imports on kava into Australia have been driven in part, by concerns that kava is being misused in remote and rural communities.

The Office of Drug Control will make a determination soon.