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.”