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Fiji

Let’s drink to Kava

The countdown is mere weeks away before the first planes take to the air to revive the renowned Fijian tourism industry.

Visitor arrivals in the first 12 months of the pandemic dropped by nearly 90 per cent – and that’s before Covid-19 cases dramatically rose, causing the government to lock down its two largest cities.

About one-third of tourism workers lost their jobs and the economy plummeted by around 20 per cent after the impact to the $US1 billion industry in Fiji.

But a root of a Pacific shrub that is a popular drink but has other ways of consumption has made the country a nice little earner on the side.

Barely supplementing its lost tourism income, the import of kava has grossed nearly $US22 million and provided people across the world with a tease of Fijian culture.

Fijian Kava ceremony
Fijian Kava ceremony Picture: Wikimedia Commons

Minister for Commerce, Trade and Tourism Faiyaz Koya boasted that Australia, who is its biggest Kava trade partner, is set to play an important role in the growth of the product.

“Kava has diversified into products such as flavoured kava beverage, ready to drink mix, capsules, micronized kava and also kava fit for pharmaceutical and complementary medicine,” he said.

“During the Forum Trade Ministers meeting this year, Australia has confirmed the launch of the commercial kava pilot programme by the end of 2021.

“This will provide an important boost to the Fijian Kava industry and help meet the growing demand for kava, especially by the Fijian diaspora.”

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