Dieback disease affecting kava farmers

March 25, 2024 4:52 pm

The majority of kava farmers in Fiji are facing issues with the dieback disease.

This was highlighted during the Regional Kava Development Strategy and Geographical Indication (GI) for Kava meeting currently held in Nadi.

Lami Kava General Manager Edward Hoerder stresses the gravity of the situation, noting that dieback disease poses a significant challenge to local farmers, particularly those engaged in commercial-scale production.

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Hoerder says the disease, known for its detrimental effects on kava plantations, has emerged as a major impediment to sustaining optimal levels of production.

“Kava dieback is a disease that affects kava plants and a lot of farmers have been hit by it. It kills the plant. And the only way to stop it is to kill the rest of the plants. Once it transfers, it can decimate large farms quickly.”

Despite the concerning backdrop, Hoerder expresses his interest at the ongoing efforts by the Pacific Community (SPC) in combating this agricultural menace.

He states the importance of further developments in this arena to mitigate the adverse effects of dieback disease on Fiji’s kava industry.

Representing the Cakaudrove Farmers Association Emosi Vaivai echoed similar sentiments, stressing the critical need for discussions to extend beyond meeting rooms and directly reach the farmers on the ground.

Vaivai says the pivotal role farmers play as the primary producers, advocating for their inclusion in decision-making processes to effectively address the challenges they face.

“In order to achieve quality, they should be brought to the grassroot level they should know what quality is.”

Throughout the meeting, participants have been reminded of the collective responsibility shared by all stakeholders in fostering a sustainable and flourishing kava sector.