What's new

Why aren't there more greenhouses growing Kava in the U.S. ?

Artofkava

Jacksonville, FL
Kava Vendor
I love this conversation!

The tea industry is very developed and has gone thru all the things coffee is going thru and what kavas starting to endure. Side note. Ethiopia has been largely kept down by its treaties and poor negotiations with Egypt as the main African producer and exporter. Now that they're getting better and building a Nile dam, they're going to start producing much more coffee etc and climb those ranks. Imo that might start some kind of war if it goes too far with the Nile water issues.

Anyway, tea left China and went into Japan. In Japan, the culture of perfection in preparation was overshadowed by china's perfection is growth (maybe save gyokuro and some yakushima teas.). That was an obvious jump, kind of like Solomon islands taking up growing kava.

Next came India. The spice trade was another obvious choice and the production /growth changed again because of the culture of what people liked. Masala Chai blends, lighter twisted high mounting sikkims, darjeelings, Northern vs southern Assam (perfect weather vs too sunny lower quality tea).

Then it was taken from India to Sri Lanka by the east India tea company and Lipton. Thru Russia for smokey Russian caravan blends (not growing but trading). Further developing the taste for tea in more regions. Ever expanding the international tea market. Side note, coffee and tea were really hard to get during the Civil War so the entire demand changed (briefly) to yaopon, the only North American caffinated Holly (like Yerba mate).

So the above will likely happen to kava as popularity spreads.

Kava will get too expensive. Read lipton taking tea to Sri Lanka to make tea cheaper. Lowering the quality. People bought LOTS of tea from lipton not really caring much where it came from. Then the ones who lived it usually intrench themselves in the local culture and apart meaning about the origins. Moving toward having it as the original drinkers had it it whatever cultures they identified and could learn about. Knowledge is much easier easier a today so read, back to Vanuatu, Fiji etc.

The low cost low quality will create a market for higher quality OG kava. People will be willing to pay a much higher price for the original stuff.

Some China tea goes for 1000usd/kg...easy. doesn't get sold much in the states. Usually gets sold at auction which is the next possibility in socialist countries. A central auction to gain control of the best of the best.

It's cool as an economist and retailer to be a part of all this happening in real time
 

nabanga

Kava Enthusiast
Perhaps a bigger question is - why is the economic development and quality of life in these countries dependent on Kava cultivation? Isn't that a bigger issue?
This has to be the main factor. It really doesnt matter who is right and wrong about the legal/copyright discussion/implications, because if someone does start growing hundreds of hectares of melomelo elsewhere from smuggled roots there is little a small country like Vanuatu would be able to do about it - whether laws were in place or not. The cat would be out of the bag.
The main factor is that many people have been trying for many decades to help Vanuatu use its amazing agricultural potential to its own advantage - including but by no means limited to all the work that has been done with kava - and to allow a third party country to jump in and take advantage of that work just when it is coming to fruition should be stopped if at all possible. That could possibly be through legal means (unlikely) or by educating people to make the right choices through forums like this - in the same way that people seek out equitable coffee and tea.
 
Last edited:

Michael Nielsen

Kava Enthusiast
I love this conversation!

The tea industry is very developed and has gone thru all the things coffee is going thru and what kavas starting to endure. Side note. Ethiopia has been largely kept down by its treaties and poor negotiations with Egypt as the main African producer and exporter. Now that they're getting better and building a Nile dam, they're going to start producing much more coffee etc and climb those ranks. Imo that might start some kind of war if it goes too far with the Nile water issues.

Anyway, tea left China and went into Japan. In Japan, the culture of perfection in preparation was overshadowed by china's perfection is growth (maybe save gyokuro and some yakushima teas.). That was an obvious jump, kind of like Solomon islands taking up growing kava.

Next came India. The spice trade was another obvious choice and the production /growth changed again because of the culture of what people liked. Masala Chai blends, lighter twisted high mounting sikkims, darjeelings, Northern vs southern Assam (perfect weather vs too sunny lower quality tea).

Then it was taken from India to Sri Lanka by the east India tea company and Lipton. Thru Russia for smokey Russian caravan blends (not growing but trading). Further developing the taste for tea in more regions. Ever expanding the international tea market. Side note, coffee and tea were really hard to get during the Civil War so the entire demand changed (briefly) to yaopon, the only North American caffinated Holly (like Yerba mate).

So the above will likely happen to kava as popularity spreads.

Kava will get too expensive. Read lipton taking tea to Sri Lanka to make tea cheaper. Lowering the quality. People bought LOTS of tea from lipton not really caring much where it came from. Then the ones who lived it usually intrench themselves in the local culture and apart meaning about the origins. Moving toward having it as the original drinkers had it it whatever cultures they identified and could learn about. Knowledge is much easier easier a today so read, back to Vanuatu, Fiji etc.

The low cost low quality will create a market for higher quality OG kava. People will be willing to pay a much higher price for the original stuff.

Some China tea goes for 1000usd/kg...easy. doesn't get sold much in the states. Usually gets sold at auction which is the next possibility in socialist countries. A central auction to gain control of the best of the best.

It's cool as an economist and retailer to be a part of all this happening in real time
But have Solomon island grown kava before? Can one assume that all pacific nation has grown kava before they did meet West and it's missionaries ?
 

nabanga

Kava Enthusiast
But have Solomon island grown kava before? Can one assume that all pacific nation has grown kava before they did meet West and it's missionaries ?
Certainly all Pacific nations have not grown kava or had it as part of their culture.
Kava growing in the Solomons just started in recent times for commercial purposes. Before colonisation of course there was no Solomons and no Vanuatu - just a long chain of Melanesian islands. In addition to present day Solomons, kava was not even grown or drank in the most northern parts of present day Vanuatu bordering the Solomons. The Torres group and the abandoned Reef islands of north Vanuatu have no cultural history of kava drinking as they have little soil to grow it and no surface water.
Kava growing in the past is linked to, (1) the migration routes and (2) later to inter island trading, and this had been studied extensively - initially rough cultivars of kava from the Bismarck group of PNG to Vanuatu, a pause of 1000 years or so, then from Vanuatu onwards east to Fiji/Tonga/Samoa, and the big jump to Hawaii via eastern Polynesia. There are plenty of islands - both melanesian, polynesian and micronesian - where kava did not flourish, whether due to being exposed sandy atolls like Kiribati or perhaps because it simply didnt catch on, especialy in those groups that were only settled in the last 1000 years.
 

Artofkava

Jacksonville, FL
Kava Vendor
But have Solomon island grown kava before? Can one assume that all pacific nation has grown kava before they did meet West and it's missionaries ?
If the history doesn't exist then u could assume that but that would mean either the same mutation occurred on all the different islands making the kava plant we know and love or islanders brought the plants in boats, maybe as peace or honor offerings to the chief in the area they went.

The first one is the only one I'd personally accept as all the Islands growing it before missionaries came. The islands where it was popular flourished and ones where it wasn't died off until an intl market was discovered and business began.

The other is similar bc it naturally "pollinated" itself as a useful plant around other places. Nature can spread and grow things for survival in different ways and usefulness of other species is part of that. BUT, that would mean it mutated and began in 1 place and spread from there. If I'm being picky.

I would say it's fair that the natural progression of kava in the south pacific is it's natural habitat.

If they wanted to keep kava in the islands and allow the eventual natural spread, an option would also be for all the current growing islands to band together and create a type of protection of the name kava kava like champaign bureau protects the type of wine. Would be an interesting move and would accomplish the goal of keeping real kava in the islands as well as create and promote a quality standard
 

Alia

'Awa Grower/Collector
This has to be the main factor. It really doesnt matter who is right and wrong about the legal/copyright discussion/implications, because if someone does start growing hundreds of hectares of melomelo elsewhere from smuggled roots there is little a small country like Vanuatu would be able to do about it - whether laws were in place or not. The cat would be out of the bag.
The main factor is that many people have been trying for many decades to help Vanuatu use its amazing agricultural potential to its own advantage - including but by no means limited to all the work that has been done with kava - and to allow a third party country to jump in and take advantage of that work just when it is coming to fruition should be stopped if at all possible. That could possibly be through legal means (unlikely) or by educating people to make the right choices through forums like this - in the same way that people seek out equitable coffee and tea.
This has to be the main factor. It really doesnt matter who is right and wrong about the legal/copyright discussion/implications, because if someone does start growing hundreds of hectares of melomelo elsewhere from smuggled roots there is little a small country like Vanuatu would be able to do about it - whether laws were in place or not. The cat would be out of the bag.
The main factor is that many people have been trying for many decades to help Vanuatu use its amazing agricultural potential to its own advantage - including but by no means limited to all the work that has been done with kava - and to allow a third party country to jump in and take advantage of that work just when it is coming to fruition should be stopped if at all possible. That could possibly be through legal means (unlikely) or by educating people to make the right choices through forums like this - in the same way that people seek out equitable coffee and tea.
Can you expand on this portion of your comment?--
"The main factor is that many people have been trying for many decades to help Vanuatu use its amazing agricultural potential to its own advantage - including but by no means limited to all the work that has been done with kava - and to allow a third party country to jump in and take advantage of that work just when it is coming to fruition should be stopped if at all possible".
Do you mean a 3rd party who has not been "help(ing) Vanuatu use its amazing agricultural potential to its own advantage..."
or any area outside of kava's traditional growing regions?
 

nabanga

Kava Enthusiast
Do you mean a 3rd party who has not been "help(ing) Vanuatu use its amazing agricultural potential to its own advantage..."
or any area outside of kava's traditional growing regions?
I was speaking about Vanuatu specifically, and by "third party country" meant countries outside of Vanuatu taking advantage of the success of Vanuatu's strains and work done in processing and marketing since the 80's. I should have been clearer and highlighted that I was only refering to growing & processing outside of the country - not marketing/selling. Of course many people and organisations from outside of Vanuatu have been involved in growing the market the last 30-40 years.
 
Top