Ana Mataitoga1, Toloi Vasuidreketi1
1Plant Protection Section, Ministry of Agriculture, Fiji
Kava (Piper methysticum) or “Yaqona”, as it is commonly known in Fiji, is a plant widely used in the Pacific islands. The pounded roots of the plant mixed with water produces the beverage that’s famous for its mildly narcotic and sedative properties. According to a joint research conducted by Pacific Horticultural Agricultural Market Access program (PHAMA) et al., (2016), commercial production of kava in Fiji has consistently increased from a low of about 900 tonnes in the 1990’s to 1600 tonnes in 2015. Kava dieback disease caused by the Cucumber mosaic virus is spread by aphids and was first reported in Fiji in 1932 by Parham et al., (1935). It remains a major constraint to the intensification of cropping systems.
Disease surveys using GPS software, farm visitations and interviews were conducted in major kava producing provinces and districts in Fiji from 2017 to 2019 including islands of Taveuni and Kadavu. On Kadavu, kava dieback presence was confirmed in the districts of Nabukelevu, Naceva and Ono with overall severity ranging from 10-80%. The districts of Vuna, Cakaudrove and Wainikeli were surveyed in Taveuni, with the Cakaudrove district recording the most cases of kava dieback disease. The overall disease severity in Taveuni was the same as that of Kadavu. Sourcing of clean and disease free planting material from unaffected farms should help mitigate this problem.
Key words: Kava, yaqona, kava dieback disease, cucumber mosaic virus.
Parham BEV (1935) Wilt disease of ‘yangona’. Fiji Agricultural Journal8, 2–8.Google Scholar
(Pacific Horticultural Agricultural Market Access), P. H. A. M. A. (2016). Fiji Kava Quality Manual. In A. KALANG (Ed.).
Ane Mataitoga is currently a Technical officer in the Plant Protection Section in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fiji Islands. She has 4 years experience working in the Pathology unit and is currently pursuing her Postgraduate Diploma in Agriculture from the University of the South Pacific (USP). She is currently working on solanaceous crops and their varietal susceptibility/tolerance to bacterial wilting.
Toloi Vasuidreketi is currently a Senior Research officer in the Plant Protection Section in Ministry of Agriculture, Fiji. He has 25 years experience working in the plant protection section under Entomology, Pathology, Weed science and pesticide registration. His work focuses on Management of pests and diseases and has worked with ACIAR projects such as regional Plant Health Clinic, Management of Brassica crops, Taro Pathway and Nematode studies on important crops. He has completed his postgraduate diploma in Agriculture from USP.