Fiji exporter tests Kiwi appetite for kava


For Kava drinkers the Green Gold Kava stand at Pasifika Festival was like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

[caption id="attachment_7841" align="alignleft" width="400"]<a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-7841" src="" alt="Green Gold Kava owner and director Praveen Narayan at his Pasifika booth." width="400" height="412" /></a> Green Gold Kava owner and director Praveen Narayan at his Pasifika booth.[/caption]

<em>Pacific Periscope</em> interviewed Praveen Narayan at his booth, sponsored by Pacific Islands Trade &amp; Invest (PT&amp;I) NZ in the Fiji Village of the Pasifika Festival at Western Springs in Auckland last weekend.

There was a lot of interest but Mr Narayan says he is careful to whom he sells the product --he is thinking of creating a kava kit to help learners prepare the drink as it is pure kava and therefore quite potent.

Mr Narayan works with 200+ farmers who grow the crop and supply his business.  Following the recent Cyclone Winston, Mr Narayan says a tree crashed through the roof threatening to fall on his wife and mother. However, both were fine but Mr Narayan says he was worried about his farmers who had returned home to check on their farms. Fortunately, the kava was undamaged and the farmers returned from their plantations smiling, he said.

Mr Narayan, who has weathered many a storm real and metaphorical built and expanded the kava production business his father started under the name John Narayan Kava Dealers in 1983. He changed the company name after watching the TV programme Gold Rush. But he wanted a name that better reflected the product. “Kava is green and the powder is gold,” he said. “Green is for agriculture and in the packets the kava looks gold.”  Mr Narayan’s father still helps out with the business and his wife Sumintra does all the administration, and is in charge of running the business when he is away.

The company earns around $1.5 million in local sales. Last year they began exporting to Seattle, and sold over $250,000 worth of kava. He has already 80 per cent filled a 20ft container for California.

The kava was sold into America in 1lb bags and he smiles at the word of mouth that has led to demand for kava from Canada. Without any promotion, sales or shipping costs, Green Gold Kava is being sold in Canada. Although the farm is not certified organic, the kava is grown using without chemicals and using organic practices. They are also careful to treat workers fairly he said.

He is also the biggest ginger farmer in Fiji’s Northern Division and is ready to directly supply 15-20 tonnes of ginger when it matures in September/October and is looking for New Zealand buyers. Mr Narayan says he will be investigating barcoding and PT&amp;I Australia has offered to help him to develop a website.

For more information on Green Gold Kava, please contact: Joe Fuavao, Trade Development Manager, PT&amp;I NZ