Kava exporter: it’s time to take advantage of high prices and grow the industry

A Fijian kava exporter is urging Pacific people to focus on commercial operations rather than small subsistence farming following last month’s lifting of a European Union kava export ban.

Lami Kava director Donny Jason Yee, whose family has been farming kava since the 1970s, said now is the time to take advantage of high kava prices and grow the industry, RNZI reports.

Mr Yee said the local market in Fiji was fiercely competitive, worth $US148 million annually, and the biggest challenge export-wise was competing with Vanuatu.

Currently, Fiji farm gate prices range per kilogram between about $US45 – $60 and kava roots retail at $US50- $75.

While it is still early days for him to see any benefits from the EU, he said there’s no doubt the kava export market is growing.

For example he said one of the kava bars in the US he supplies provides a service to Russian clients.

Posted by  | Jan 19, 2018 | Vanuatu News

Vendors happy with kava sale

Serafina Silaitoga, FijiTimes.com

Grog vendors in Labasa have seen growth in their business with good yaqona prices. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA
Grog vendors in Labasa have seen growth in their business with good yaqona prices. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

THIS year posed a promising period for yaqona vendors in the Labasa Market.

Since Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston in February 2016, vendors in the Labasa Market have seen their revenue increase every week.

And for this festive season, some vendors have collected as much as $6000 in a day.

Vendor Marica Tuwaisele said her grog business had grown.

“The demand is higher even though the price has remained the same since Winston last year,” she said.

“This year we didn’t experience any shortfalls in which our income will be affected as the supply was constant and demand was high. Towards the end of this year, we noticed the demand was higher than what we experienced earlier in the year.”

After Severe TC Winston last year, a severe shortage of yaqona in many parts of Fiji led to skyrocketing prices.

This also contributed significantly to inflation with several other tropical depressions and flooding affecting supply.

While kava prices remain generally about $90 to $120 per kg mark, Mrs Tuwaisele said the high income helped them prepare their children for school.

“It’s a big help for families who depend on grog for income and have no other source of income,” she said.

Saimone Sarosaro, another vendor described Severe TC Winston as blessing for struggling farmers and vendors.

“Before the cyclone hit Fiji, the price of yaqona was between $30 and $45 a kilogram of lewena, but after the cyclone it increased to $90 a kg,” he said.

“It’s good business and we have benefitted a lot and it has helped improved our living standard. I am a grog farmer too so I don’t buy grog as I supply my own and make good money.”

Margaret Wise, Fiji Times Online, Monday, July 03, 2017

Foodies in the courtyard. Picture: SUPPLIED
Foodies in the courtyard. Picture: SUPPLIED

IF niche markets are about making your mark, then The Fiji Orchid’s Farm to Fork tour is well on its way to establishing itself as a business known for covering all its bases.

The tour, which promotes food tourism and touches on the different aspects of Fiji’s food culture, involves a hour-long immersion into the intricacies of growing sugar cane, and the processing of raw sugar through to the making of Fiji rum at the distillery in Lautoka.

This interaction is followed by a practical introduction to another local culinary gem, the coconut.

Those on tour also indulge in a demonstration where coconut milk is extracted from freshly grated coconut which is then used in Fiji rum cocktails that are sampled by the “foodies”.

The most recent foodies on tour was organised by Nourish Magazine of New Zealand in conjunction with Destination Fiji.

Nourish Magazine ran an advertisement looking for interested food lovers who were keen to explore the food culture in Fiji. They got up to 10 participants from all over New Zealand who flew to Fiji for a week-long stay.

The tour also involved a walk through the plantation set up by the staff of The Fiji Orchid at Saweni, lautoka, where they were practising the “farm to fork” theme by planting a variety of vegetables to be harvested and prepared for the meals served in Raymonds Restaurant.

The Fiji Orchid is a small luxury boutique hotel and specialises in small, intimate gatherings of up to 50 guests. Resort director, Jenny Leewai Bourke said she was extremely proud of the achievement of her team.

“You can travel the world over and stay in the most luxurious hotels, but a meal cooked from the heart and with home grown vegetables is one you will never forget,” she said.

TALEBULA KATE, Fiji Times Online, Monday, July 03, 2017

Update: 5:55PM ONLINE complaints on social media platforms and review sites can have a negative impact on consumers’ evaluations.

Postgraduate students Karishma Sharma and Mani Mate. Picture: SUPPLIED
Postgraduate students Karishma Sharma and Mani Mate. Picture: SUPPLIED

Mani Mate a postgraduate student at the University of the South Pacific (USP) argued this at the recent School of Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) research colloquium at USP.

The research colloquium brought together various tourism stakeholders to discuss three ongoing postgraduate research projects in this context.

Mr Mate who worked in the hotel industry in the Cook Islands for over ten years in his presentation examined how Aitutaki hotel managers respond to negative online reviews, particularly on TripAdvisor.

Another presenter Karishma Sharma has worked in various positions in hospitality, design, marketing, and customer relations in both Fiji and Australia over the past decade and currently works as teaching assistant at STHM.

Ms Sharma’s research titled “An investigation of social media marketing performance of Fiji’s hotel industry” evaluates the marketing performance of 105 hotels in Fiji on various social media sites, according to the Digital Marketing Framework.

In her presentation, she identified the major problems regarding the social media marketing efforts of hotels, the implications behind these problems and provided recommendations for improvement accordingly.

Compiled by RANOBA BAOA, Fiji Sun Online

Welcome to Hard Talk, where we pose questions to both top executives and budding entrepreneurs on some of the major issues involving business.

The newest magazine on shelf is fast turning heads with common A-B-C journalism questions on ‘what, why who, where and how’ the magazine emerged.

Business Melanesia is the newest magazine on the market which focuses on Melanesian leaders, top company executives with emerging entrepreneurs who deal, trade and exchange between the Melanesian region.

We believe it also provides the much-needed content which Melanesia’s business industry and leaders can turn to.
The first issue came out in November and is now the second February issue is available.

In this section, we catch up with managing editor, Stanley Simpson, no doubt a synonymous name in the media circle and multi-award winning journalist in Fiji.

He tells us more of the magazine and perhaps lay to rest most, if not all, your questions and ones we too have been asking.

Questions for Business Melanesia managing editor, Stanley Simpson:

1. Tell us about this much talked-about Business Melanesia.

The idea for Business Melanesia magazine emerged after partners from Papua New Guinea and Fiji saw the increased trade and business interaction between the two countries and throughout Melanesia, particularly under the MSG free trade agreement.
We felt it was important to highlight the developments taking place, and profile the leadership and endeavours being undertaken in the various sectors.

There is a need for an influential quality magazine that helps shape constructive and positive perspectives of Melanesia, and provides sound, critical, fair and balanced assessment of the various initiatives being undertaken.

We believe there is interest for a magazine that allows the Melanesian public and business people to:

  • l Share views with each other
  • l Read about each other
  • l Discover business opportunities
  • l Assess the various strategies being undertaken
  • l Record the lessons and experiences of business initiatives.


Having a magazine that captures these MSG efforts is a sign of our development and growth as a Melanesian society that can think on its own, have and project its own views, independently and critically assess projects, propose ideas and initiatives and share information that help our people grow and make informed opinions and decisions.

2. Who is the publisher and if you could highlight some interesting facts about him and the company?

Business Melanesia magazine is registered, published and based in Papua New Guinea with production such as editorial, graphics and marketing largely outsourced to a Fijian company, given the reasonable costs of running a business in Fiji.
Plans are also underway to set up offices, correspondents and contributors in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands to make the magazine truly Melanesian.
There are challenges associated with that we need to overcome, however technology allows us to solve some of those challenges.
At the moment we acknowledge that the magazine has been PNG and Fiji-focused but that will change. The feedback we have been getting from the various countries has been overwhelmingly positive.

3. What is the magazine aiming to do?

Business Media Fiji Limited is the Fijian company that is providing much of the editorial, graphics and marketing for Business Melanesia magazine.
It also provides a range of media services and consultancies for other organisations and entities. It is made up of local ‘home grown’ media professionals.

We are not looking to compete with existing publications – but simply find our own niche.

4. What/who are the Business Melanesia’s target market and penetrate into this market?

The magazine is addressing a cross-section of the Melanesian public including entrepreneurs, managers, decision makers and business leaders. We also aim to inspire young Melanesians with success stories and profiles of leaders in various sectors.

We are looking to partner with companies that are looking to have regional coverage, to establish their brand or looking to promote their products, services and expertise across the MSG countries – as well as companies that facilitate business across the region.  We want to talk about companies that are making a meaningful contribution in their own countries that can be replicated in other MSG countries.
We are ensuring that the 400 most influential people in each MSG country from MPs, CEOs, Ministers and business leaders get to read the magazine and we are sending it to them at our own cost. The magazine is also sold in over 50 outlets throughout Melanesia.

5. How does the magazine aim to keep up with the competitive world of online media?

The Melanesian countries of the South Pacific are poised for strong economic growth and greater regional co-operation with the signing of the MSG Free Trade Agreement.

Business Melanesia magazine aims to capture this Melanesian resurgence – which could be a defining moment in the history of our countries and peoples.

There are many companies that are trying to take advantage of this new era of business opportunities – to expand or further their investment. Business Melanesia will provide information and analysis of the business environment and developments in MSG countries.

It will also facilitate their efforts to project their image across the region, or break into the various markets by highlighting their products and services – either through articles or through advertising.

Through the magazine – companies will be able to reach decision makers, customers, and potential business partners in five MSG countries.