Yaqona price stays up
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