Kava production is expected to increase in the Province of Navosa after the Ministry for Agriculture handed over a kava nursery and 4,500 kava seedlings to Kava Farmers’ Cluster groups in the district of Navatusila.
Speaking at the handing-over ceremony, Minister for Agriculture Doctor Mahendra Reddy has urged farmers to target the export market as their main source of income by growing export crops such as kava.
He says Fiji’s agriculture sector is quite resilient, and it has grown, and there is no doubt about this despite some negative criticisms that there is a lack of growth in the sector.
He has assured the farmers that the agriculture sector continues to grow and develop.
Dr Reddy says in 2017, Fiji’s exports from agricultural produce was only $68 million, but through the hard work of farmers and support from stakeholders and the Government, it grew to $121 million in 2021.
He adds they want farmers to get into the export sector so the benefits can also be felt in the interior of Viti Levu.
Dr Reddy says with kava being the number one export crop for Fiji, earning approximately $42 million per year, there is enormous potential to increase kava production and exports.
The Minister says he does not see why we need to import kava from Vanuatu when we know about growing kava in Fiji.
He says farmers know how to raise it, Fiji has prime conditions for kava cultivation, and the Ministry is ready to support them to expand their kava production in Navosa.
Reddy also highlighted that part of the Ministry’s ambitions is to raise the level of kava production in the Western Division to reach and hopefully surpass the production levels of other parts of the country such as Vanua Levu, Taveuni, Kadavu, the Lomaiviti group and parts of the Central Division were known for growing kava.
He says the Western Division is not renowned for kava exports, and they want to position their farmers so that in 3 to 4 years, the Western Division will become a major kava production and export area.
Tokoni Village Headman Ulivou Nasakuka says the assistance provided by the Ministry through the kava nursery and seedlings would further motivate their farmers to grow even more despite the everyday challenges they faced.
He says they are thankful to be chosen to receive this assistance as farmers in Navosa grow kava and other crops to support their daily lives, and the 2,000 yaqona seedlings given to them will help secure the planting material.
Nasakuka adds they are also thankful to meet with the Minister and discuss their issues with him.
The Village Headman says they can now set their targets and aim for the export markets as this assistance is a huge boost of confidence for them and will also help secure their income and the needs of their families.
The four villages of Nanoko, Nabutautau, Nasauvakarua and Mare with the settlements of Natoka, Tuvatuva, Tokoni and Natodrakwadrakwa have received the yaqona seedlings which the Ministry’s Research Division prepared in Koronivia.
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