Yaqona price stays up

Fiji Sun - - Nation - Jy­otip@fi­jisun.com.fj

Price of yaqona re­mains high in the mar­kets and vil­lages months af­ter the dev­as­ta­tion of Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Winston in Fe­bru­ary this year. A re­cent lo­cal mar­ket sur­vey by the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture re­vealed that on av­er­age, waka was sold at $36.33 per kilo­gram in Jan­uary, in­creased to $39.90 per kilo­grams in March and dra­mat­i­cally in­creased to $70.90 per kilo­grams in May.

Sim­i­larly, lewena was sell­ing at $24.33 per kilo­gram in Jan­uary, in­creased to $32.20 in April and $44.49 per kilo­grams by May.

The Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Mar­ket Sur­vey per­son­nel Jiaoji Waqabaca said at present there are com­pe­ti­tions be­tween lo­cal and Van­u­atu Kava in the mar­ket.

“Af­ter Trop­i­cal Cy­clone Winston, there was short sup­ply of yaqona lo­cally and im­porters had to in­crease the im­por­ta­tion of kava from Van­u­atu to meet the de­mand from lo­cal and over­seas mar­kets,” he said.

Sta­tis­ti­cally Fiji im­ported a to­tal of 72,520 kilo­grams with a value of $2.2 mil­lion Van­u­atu kava in 2015.

With the dras­tic in­crease, ven­dors in lo­cal mar­kets are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a de­cline in cus­tomers buy­ing lo­cal kava and are now buy­ing Van­u­atu kava sell­ing at $32$35 per kilo­gram for lewena and $38-$49 per kilo­gram for waka. Yaqona ven­dor Di­nesh Singh of Waya set­tle­ment, Val­ley Road, Si­ga­toka said that there has been a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the price of yaqona af­ter Cy­clone Winston.

“This is be­cause there is short­age of sup­ply from farm­ers ev­ery­where hence we are sell­ing yaqona at a much higher price,” said Mr Singh. “When plant­ing and har­vest­ing will re­turn to nor­mal then the prices will be re­duced, but that will take a while be­tween three-six years,” he said.

Prices of yaqona at stall 197 at the Si­ga­toka Mar­ket in­creased from $30 to $35 per kilo­gram be­fore the cy­clone to $50-$60 per kilo­gram.

Sim­i­larly the price of read­ily pounded yaqona is sold at $45-$50 per kilo­gram from pre­vi­ous price of $15$20 per kilo­gram.

Re­spec­tively, the US recorded the high­est yaqona ex­port bill of $3.7m in 2015 com­pared to $2.9m in 2014. Yaqona ex­porter A1 Kava and Spice Dealer, di­rec­tor Arunesh Chand said his com­pany ex­ports yaqona to the United States of Amer­ica at FJ$100 per kilo­grams at present. How­ever the to­tal yaqona ex­port quan­tity in 2015 de­creased by 26.8 per cent from 2014 be­cause of the drought that de­stroyed com­modi­ties around the coun­try in­clud­ing yaqona. Mean­while the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture has iden­ti­fied ar­eas that will be fo­cused for the pro­duc­tion of yaqona. Deputy Sec­re­tary Agri­cul­ture De­vel­op­ment, Uraia Waibuta said the Min­istry has a yaqona de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme as part of the re­hab and we would try and go back and boost pro­duc­tion in the iden­ti­fied area. Source: DEPTFO News

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