This particular news bit that I am about to report, brings me nothing but sheer sadness – if I hadn’t just had my afternoon cup of Kava I might very well be curled up in a ball in a corner somewhere crying!
There is a current policy shift in motion within the Fijian government. They plan to ban Kava kava in some of the more remote villages of Fiji’s island on a regular Monday through Friday basis – declaring that it is only to be had on the weekends. Fiji is one of the possible birth homes of domesticated Kava kava, so to hear that it might become less of a regular part of some Fijians’ lives, is truly extremely heart wrenching.
What could this mean on a greater scale? It’s possible that Kava crops and Kava farming might be reduced as a side effect of cutting back on regular Kava enjoyment. The villagers, some of whom rely on Kava farming for a livelihood, might be put out of work. And yet, Commissioner Eastern Netani Rika suggests that villagers start reducing their consumption of Kava kava and begin working on income-generating village projects. He spoke with villagers from Vanuatu, Komo, Namuka and Ogea on that matter in particular.
The basis of this heart-breaking policy recommendation according to Commissioner Eastern Netani Riki, is that Kava is to blame for the poverty of these villages and the problems with development that the iTaukei people have been experiencing. But, as I mentioned above and will now reinforce – cutting out Kava consumption entirely five days a week is going to greatly reduce the need for Kava crop production. Not only is this a source of local income, but Kava is also one of the major trade products coming from Fiji and enjoyed by many other nations.
So, if Kava consumption is reduced on the basis of it becoming less of a part of Fijian villagers’ daily lives – then is it not safe to say that jobs will be lost and GDP (Gross Domestic Product) reduced? This sounds like it will reduce development and productivity to me, not increase it.
It seems unlikely that Netani Rika has ever had pure Kava kava himself, because surely if he had he would understand all of the wonderful benefits and life enjoyment it brings and how all of this will be taken away from the villagers if this terrible ban goes through!
One other thing batting around in my mind is whether or not the people behind this policy recommendation understand that the regular enjoyment of Kava might not be the cause of poverty and stunted village development – but might rather be a healing mechanism. I would beg for the councils involved to look at the deeper roots of the social problems and not to blame one of the things that continue to add to the happiness of the village people.
I am very much relieved to hear that it is only something in the making and has not yet actually gone through. Hopefully there is still time for the Fijian policy developers to come to their senses and learn to appreciate and encourage Kava kava consumption for the many beautiful things it has done for the people of the islands.