Malaita Province is poised to become the biggest kava producer in the country in the next five years, as it finally raves up its agriculture potential.
As the kava excitement hits the province, data has shown that there are between 400,000 to 800,000 kava bottoms being planted on the island with the Kwara’ae region topping the list.
Phillip Subu, who heads the Malaita Youth Caucus and Executive Advisor of Malaita Youth in Business told SBMOnline that kava planting is in full swing and the latest data is encouraging.
Subu and his comrades have been travelling around Malaita promoting kava growing amongst the youths of the province to engage in business.
He said they had so far organized one training in the Kwara’ae region and in early July they’ll travel to the northern region to run another similar workshop there.
Subu said as kava is a new product and there’s not much expertise on the ground but they have been using some locals who have some knowledge on kava and those they extracted from text-books.
He adds that such trainings would empower the youths and equip them to engage in the kava business.
“Currently we are looking at establishing a robust model where we can build on – into the future,” he told SBM.
According to Subu, Malaita’s environment is very suitable for kava planting as the plant thrives on wet-ground with regular rainfall. He adds Malaita meets those requirements, which is good for kava farming.
Celsus Talifilu, who is the Political Advisor to the Premier of Malaita, said kava planting on the island is getting momentum and is very encouraging.
Talifilu said in the long term – they are looking at branding to protect the Malaita kava. He adds that in the future they are also looking at establishing a kava processing plant on Malaita as the industry takes root in most parts of the province.
According to Talifilu, kava planting is a growing at a fast pace on Malaita with the Kwara’ae region taking the lead followed by Are’are.
Subu said in the Kwara’ae region, kava plantations are dominating the eye-lines whenever you go in the region.
He cites the region of Kwaia’afa in the Central region, next to Fiu, where there are 100 small holding farms. A small holding farm has 500 bottoms or trees of kava with big plantations growing thousands of trees.
With the already 800,000 bottoms now being planted on the ground, in three years time if they are harvested it would fetch the farmers around one billion dollars.
However the province is optimistic that the number of bottoms would continue to increase as more Malaitans take up kava farming.
Some farmers on Malaita had already sold their kava plants and several earning more than $50,000.
“What we want in the future is to have buyers go all the way to the rural areas to buy kava so that money stays in our rural communities,” he said.
According to Subu, although their programme is targeting the youths, it is also open to all other farmers in the province.
“We don’t only restrict that to our youths but we welcome everyone to attend,” he told SBM.
He adds at the end of the day, the youths are also part of the families.
On market side, Subu said there’s a huge market for kava and regardless of how many people are engaged— it would still not match the global demand.
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