Brandon Nakavulevu says it’s now time to stop the middlemen from undermining the price of yaqona or kava.
Mr Nakavulevu, who is the founder of Namosi Kava, said yaqona farmers were being tricked in the past, but they would put a stop to it.
Namosi Kava is a registered business name in Lautoka.
“The yaqona farmers should now dictate the price of their yaqona and not the middlemen,” he said.
“In the past 30 years, I have observed that the middlemen have been playing around with farmers because they were the ones that dictate the price of kava.”
Mr Nakavulevu, when he saw the demand for yaqona in the past 10 years he went back to the village in 2013 and started planting his yaqona.
He said in 2016 when cyclone Winston struck, the price of yaqona went up, so people rushed for the price, but he watched and observed.
“I realised and saw the speed of people harvesting kava. And within the next few years we won’t have any more mature kava, because people are just going for the price.”
Mr Nakavulevu said as the provider of the product you have to make sure that your clients are fully satisfied.
“Today, the middlemen dictates the price, and that’s how I see farmers are being robbed.
“I want the farmers to have more power to dictate the price of their kava. If the middlemen doesn’t like my kava, that’s fine, they can look for somebody else.
“If you break that down on the amount of hours you spent on your farm for seven years it should be $150 a kilogram.”
Mr Nakavulevu said right now there is kava from Vanua Levu, Savusavu, Kadavu, Levuka and so forth, nothing said of Namosi Kava.
“Parveen Kava, where does he get his kava from? He got it from Namosi, but brand’s it as Parveen’s kava.
“Even though Namosi people harvested tonnes and tonnes of yaqona every year the middlemen won’t say its Namosi kava. “So that’s why I want to promote Namosi kava, and what happens is the middlemen will rush up to Namosi. So the name Namosi is now the product.”
Mr Nakavulevu said when he expands his business he would be careful about where he’d go and buy from.
“I want to maintain my quality at any cost. Because back in the village they know it very well the taste of the organic and non-organic kava.
“The volume of yaqona in Namosi is huge, but I have to be sure who I will buy from.”
Mr Nakavulevu said he supports the Government initiative to eliminate the use of pesticides on his yaqona farm.
“Since it involves a traditional plant, I believe its only right that I employ the traditional method of planting.
“Our past elders were able to plant without pesticides.
“There is no excuse for an I’taukei to rely on hand-outs and freebies.”
He said 90 per cent of the land in Fiji belongs to the i’Taukei, but the land was just lying there for nothing.
“I have seen that there is much consumption of yaqona from our youths and less planting done.
“Last year in December, I started harvesting my yaqona. These are the seven-year-old yaqona. I first harvested four plants, the cost of a plant is around $750.
“My job is to plant, and harvesting, my family in Nadi is responsible for packing, selling and marketing.
“At the moment I’m focusing on the local market before exporting.
“My grog has already been sent to Australia for testing and I’m still waiting for the result.
“My millions are in my land and I have to invest on it now.”
He said when you have a plan you work according to that plan.
“If I don’t have that plan, I would have uprooted all the seven-year-old kava plants.
“I even underestimated the value of my yaqona. So when I harvested only two plants, it’s almost worth $2000.
“This will be a big work, if I’m going to export overseas then I will have to be full time on it. I have the opportunity to export. I have my grog already sent to Australia for testing so I’m still waiting for all those results.”
He said the next project would focus on opening a kava bar.