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.
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.