Quality of product critical: Saunitoga

May 26, 2024 4:16 pm

Heritage Kava, a locally owned kava business situated in the interior of Lovoni village on Ovalau Island has emerged as a significant player in the kava industry.

Founded by Sowane Saunitoga and his wife Hannah Saunitoga, the company has grown from modest beginnings into a leading exporter of high-quality kava powder.

According to Saunitoga, the concept of starting a kava business was born during a casual grog session when he was part of the Island Breeze program that sends players from Ovalau to overseas for rugby contracts, but when everything failed, he chose to return to Fiji and started farming.

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Saunitoga emphasizes that the idea of exporting kava was not part of the initial plan but getting the right support and advice plays a crucial role in business growth.

“The Bainimarama government came to visit Lovoni; accompanying them were the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, the Ministry of Agriculture, and Biosecurity, who encouraged me to try and export my kava. Getting started is always a challenge, especially looking for yaqona seedlings. I started in 2019 and then COVID came, but I never gave up.”

Sowane Saunitoga

In a strategic move to support local farmers, Saunitoga plans to build a factory close to the farms in Lovoni that prevents farmers from paying for transportation to and from their farms.

Saunitoga reiterates that quality is a cornerstone of Heritage Kava’s operations.

“All the grog went through cleaning using a water blaster before it was dried. After pounding, it went through a metal detector machine that pulled out metal particles in the pounded kava before it was packed.”

Heritage Kava’s market reach has expanded significantly exporting to the Amazon platform in the United States who will be selling on their behalf.

Today, Heritage Kava employs about 20 people, all from the district of Lovoni, contributing to the local economy and community development.

From its humble beginnings, Heritage Kava has grown into a major industry player, demonstrating the potential of local enterprises to thrive on the global stage.