Re­gional Kava Stan­dard Being De­vel­oped

A Kava Re­gional Qual­ity Stan­dard will give an up­per hand to ex­porters of kava from Fiji and in­deed the Pa­cific Is­land coun­tries. They can demon­strate and pro­vide as­sur­ances to their key in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

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The Pa­cific Is­land coun­tries await the sup­port of Codex to de­velop a codex Re­gional Qual­ity Stan­dard for kava. The Codex Ali­men­ta­r­ius is a col­lec­tion of in­ter­na­tion­ally-recog­nised stan­dards, codes of prac­tice, guide­lines, and other rec­om­men­da­tions re­lat­ing to foods, food pro­duc­tion, and food safety. A Kava Re­gional Qual­ity Stan­dard will give an up­per hand to ex­porters of kava from Fiji and in­deed the Pa­cific Is­land coun­tries. They can demon­strate and pro­vide as­sur­ances to their key in­ter­na­tional mar­kets that kava is pro­duced and man­u­fac­tured in ac­cor­dance with agreed codex qual­ity stan­dard. This stan­dard was one of the things re­gional kava busi­nesses/stake­hold­ers pushed for dur­ing a ma­jor meet­ing in Port Vila, Van­u­atu, the past week. This was dur­ing the 14th Ses­sion of the joint Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion/World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion Food Stan­dards Programme. This was a meet­ing of the FAO/WHO Co­or­di­nat­ing Com­mit­tee for North Amer­ica and the South West Pa­cific (NAWSP). The com­mit­tee sup­ported the dis­cus­sion pa­per of the de­vel­op­ment of a re­gional stan­dard for kava prod­uct that can be used as a bev­er­age when mixed with wa­ter.

In sup­port of this work, an elec­tronic work­ing was formed to fi­nalise the project doc­u­ment on the de­vel­op­ment of a re­gional stan­dard. While it has taken some time to get to this point, the Pa­cific Is­land coun­tries are very pleased with this out­come and the de­ci­sion of the NAWSP Codex Com­mit­tee.

This is a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone for the kava growing coun­tries in the Pa­cific. The sup­port from the Codex Com­mit­tee for the NASWP re­gion means that the Kava Re­gional Qual­ity Stan­dard moves one step closer to be­com­ing a re­al­ity. A Codex re­gional stan­dard will mean that kava is reg­is­tered as a food. This will en­able the kava growing coun­tries from the Pa­cific, in­clud­ing Fiji, to demon­strate to our over­seas mar­kets that the kava we ex­port for con­sump­tion as a bev­er­age com­plies with the food safety re­quire­ments and qual­ity stan­dards. One of the lo­cal kava busi­ness who par­tic­i­pated at the meet­ing said it may still take some time as per the Codex process and agreed time­line. But, he said the sup­port they have re­ceived from the meet­ing to fi­nalise the project doc­u­ment for the work on a kava re­gional stan­dard to be ac­cepted as new work, is sig­nif­i­cant.

What it means for Fiji

For Fiji, while the de­vel­op­ment of a re­gional stan­dard is being pro­gressed, the na­tional qual­ity stan­dard for yaqona from Fiji will pro­vide the guid­ing prin­ci­ples on qual­ity and food safety re­quire­ments. Com­pli­ance with an agreed qual­ity stan­dard will pro­vide as­sur­ances to the over­seas buy­ers of Fiji kava that they are pur­chas­ing and sell­ing good qual­ity kava for hu­man con­sump­tion.

Im­por­tantly, it will also mean that the tu­dae (two day) and wild va­ri­eties of kava, which are not con­sid­ered safe for hu­man con­sump­tion as a bev­er­age, are not im­ported from other coun­tries to be mixed with good qual­ity kava from Fiji.

Del­e­gates at­tend­ing the 14th Ses­sion of the joint Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion/World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion Food Stan­dards Programme in Port Vila, Van­u­atu past week.

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