Samoa Kava farmers have opportunity to re-open a USD$250m export market

Kava drinking ceremony a crucial part of Samoan culture. The Auckland Super City Mayor Taua’aletoa Len Brown taking his kava cup during the bestowal of his chiefly title at Lepa village.

APIA: FRIDAY 13 JUNE 2014: “Samoa and Pacific Kava farmers will have the opportunity to re-open an export market that was about USD$250m per annum back in the late 1990s.” This is the joyful reaction from the President of the Samoa Manufacturers Association, Tagaloa Eddie Wilson – a pioneer exporter of kava to the European market before the market collapsed 12 years ago due to health claims.

Yesterday, one of Germany’s highest courts – Germany’s Federal Administrative Court ruled that Germany’s ban on products containing kava (Piper methysticum) is unlawful and inappropriate.

The decision overturned a ban brought in 2002 because of public health authorities’ fears over kava’s toxicity.

“At the time the Kava trade was estimated to contribute an average of at least 20% of GDPs for the Pacific Kava Producing countries-including Samoa,” says Tagaloa.

The Court Case was pursued by an Arm of the International Kava Executive Council- which is the German Pharmaceutical Industry and Tagaloa has been closely associated with the case up to its outcome.

“The reaction naturally is thank God- because it has taken us, IKEC and the Pacific 14 years to get to this,” he told Talamua.

“Personally – I am very satisfied and pleased for all the efforts of all those that assisted in the process – I am over the moon- and the magnitude of the decision has yet to sink in.”

But the hard work has yet to start given the time lapse which affected the farmers and growers investment and interest. “One thing for sure- SAME and IKEC has a lot of work to do to rebuild the capacity for the farmers and establish Quality Control (Certifiable) Systems to assure quality,” Tagaloa told Talamua.

Talamua understands that kava growing regions such as Fagaloa in Upolu and Salega in Savaii island, have been controlling the kava prices locally since the collapse of the European market and there is a need for stringent export standards and quality controls for the European market if it opens up again following the lifting of the ban.

“It will mean that Samoa and Pacific Kava farmers will have the opportunity to re-open an export market that was about USD$250m per annum back in the late 1990s. The Kava trade was estimated to contribute an average of at least 20% of GDPs for the Pacific Kava Producing countries-including Samoa,” says Tagaloa.

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