| PNG Business News
PORT MORESBY - Minister for International Trade and Investment, Richard Maru, wants to see the establishment and commercialisation of the kava industry in Papua New Guinea.
Minister Maru expressed his enthusiasm after learning from Fijians who attended the recent World Indigenous Business Forum in Port Moresby that the demand for kava in Fiji and the Pacific had outgrown supply.
“The cultivation and sale of kava both in domestic markets and as a processed export product is an important source of income for thousands of smallholder farmers and their families across the Pacific,” Maru said.
“Green liquid, dried and powdered kava has progressed from a traditional and customary beverage over the years to a source of community livelihoods, and now a business for the pharmaceutical industry and social gatherings.
“The commodity is known to have medicinal capabilities including a relaxant. Because of its benefits and the removal of trade restrictions in many countries, the demand for kava has increased and thousands of smallholder farmers across the region are now engaged in its production.
“The commodity has become one of the main sources of economic importance to many Pacific Island countries and as a significant contributor to GDP, foreign exchange earnings, and balance of payments through exports for some countries,” Maru said.
According to a recent report by the Pacific Horticultural & Agricultural Market Access Program, in Fiji alone one in eight rural households are involved in kava cultivation. A further 3,000 households earn an income through kava trade and retail operations.
In Vanuatu, an estimated 30,000 households are involved in kava cultivation with another 3,000 earning an income from trade and retail operations.
Fijian and Vanuatu kava exports are each valued at over K100 million annually to markets in the Pacific Islands and in New Zealand, Europe and the United States.
The bulk of this trade is associated with selling kava as a beverage, with a growing quantity being exported as an ingredient for nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products.
Kava’s increasing price has created local and overseas investment opportunities for the cultivation and propagation of kava by local communities across the region. The global market expected to exceed K750 billion by 2026.
“PNG has the potential to become the biggest producer of kava in the world if we establish kava as an industry and multi-crop with kava planted under the cocoa trees to fully utilise the land,” said Maru. “This is one industry that is ready to boom.”