Calls for kava exporter’s licence to be cancelled after US discovery of 60 tonnes of tainted kava

Tainted kava threatens Vanuatu's kava industry. Shown here is ground Vanuatu kava for sale by a US retailer

Tainted kava threatens Vanuatu’s kava export industry: shown here is ground Vanuatu kava sold by a US retailer

Adulterated kava exporting hits the headlines again. The Agriculture Minister and EU Ambassador are both calling for the kava export licence of Peter Colmar’s Sarami Plantation to be terminated. EU Ambassador Joy reports some 60 tonnes of tainted kava being shipped to four companies in the United States last year. It was all non-noble and non-root material. The ambassador’s research has been assisted by German kava expert Dr Mathias Schmidt who helped in having the EU ban on kava from island countries lifted.

Len Garae reports Dr Schmidt saying as much as 28 tons of ground leaves and stalks went to one US importer, Kumars Import. Schmidt is quoted saying “I thought the Vanuatu Kava Act had been changed, but if someone like Sarami Plantation can sell such quantities without any consequences, there must be more than just one person closing their eyes. We need to stop this before the next catastrophe happens.” It is alleged soil was also included in shipments, and that the company had been buying kava makas (waste) from Luganville kava bars to export. The Colmar exports to the US went via New Zealand.

Ambassador Joy was shocked at the manner in which such shipments could escape Vanuatu’s own Customs and border controls. Peter Colmar lives in China, but is often in Vanuatu. Sarami Plantation offered no response to enquiries from Daily Post. The alarming news follows hard on the heels of the JPO adulterated kava reports and harms Vanuatu’s pre-eminence in the FAO and WHO Codex Alimentarius attempts to regulate kava quality. (Daily Post)

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2 Comments on “Calls for kava exporter’s licence to be cancelled after US discovery of 60 tonnes of tainted kava”

  1. Rick says:

    Seems a bit heavy haneed, although to be fair other Kava Dealers who violate set standards should also be penalized as well.

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    • dailyvanuatu says:

      Heavy-handed? Not if Vanuatu is to develop kava exporting as an industry, and maintain our expertise and edge over competitors. To be fair, Peter Colmar is not likely to be the only Vanuatu kava exporter bulking up his product with makas, leaves and stems – this seems to be a fairly common occurence, according to a kava exporter we spoke to. But let’s not forget that long-term export markets aren’t built by ripping off customers.

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