Call to include more women, youth in kava training

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Friday, February 01 2019

L-R: PHAMA Plus National Coordinator in Fiji, Losalini Leweniqila, Roko Tui Kadavu Kitione Raibevu and Biosecurity Authority of Fiji Assurance and Compliance Officer Sanjeshni Devi after the meeting on Vunisea, Kadavu.

The Fiji Kava Taskforce was yesterday encouraged to include more women and youth in its kava training activities.

The call was made by Losalini Leweniqila, the National Coordinator for the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Plus Program* in Fiji, during a meeting of the Taskforce in Vunisea, Kadavu yesterday.

Ms Leweniqila highlighted the need to have more women and youth participating in training activities for kava farmers and also provided an update on the progress of work towards the development of a Kava Strategy. Healthy discussions also ensued at the meeting on steering the kava industry forward.

Preceding the Taskforce meeting was a one-day training for kava farmers and processors from across the province on Wednesday. Participants at the training said they were now more confident of tapping into the export market with the technical knowledge they had acquired.

More than 60 farmers from nine districts attended the training that was also held in Vunisea.

The training was jointly organised by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and PHAMA Plus, a multi-country program supported by Australia and New Zealand.

Opening the training, the Ministry’s Director Extension, Paula Tuione, told participants that the Government had a vision to boost Fiji’s kava exports. The Kava Taskforce also addressed participants on key areas including innovative farming practices, improving kava quality and trade regulations. Participants were also updated on the status of Fiji’s kava industry and marketing opportunities for kava export.

Kadavu’s Senior Agriculture Officer, Malakai Rasolo, highlighted the establishment of the Kadavu Kava Farmers’ Cooperative, a commercial enterprise created by kava farmers in Kadavu.

“We have formed this cooperative for commercial purposes with a vision to tap into export markets,” Rasolo said. “And as one of the experts mentioned, this ambition will challenge us to meet certain requirements for the export market at farming level.”

Coinciding with the training this week, the cooperative opened a kava pounding facility in Vunisea to establish their own packaging and retail outlet and boost their effort to trademark their brand.

Farmers from nine districts across the Kadavu Province attended the training that was held in Vunisea, Kadavu.

“The training has encouraged me to accomplish my goals this year as a kava farmer. I also support the move to market Kadavu kava and the challenge is now on us to achieve this goal,” said Epineri Tabuanimeke, a 29-year-old farmer from Namara Village, Sanima, Kadavu.

70-year-old farmer Etuate Bokula, who travelled from Nasau Village in Nabukelevu to attend the training said the training had broadened his understanding of kava farming and the information shared would be useful for new and young farmers.

Kadavu Provincial Council chairman, Malakai Masi, welcomed the decision of the Kava Taskforce to hold the meeting on the island and the opportunity to share technical knowledge with the farmers. PHAMA Plus’ partnership with the Ministry and Taskforce is aligned with its objective to contribute to improved economic growth and rural livelihoods by establishing and maintaining access to export markets.

For further information, contact Losalini Leweniqila at l.leweniqila@phamaplus.com.au or on +679 7090808

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