Yaqona and the Fijian periphery revisited

Michael Sofer

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17 Scopus citations


This paper deals with some major economic issues concerning the Pacific plant kava, known in Fiji as yaqona. The plant is the source of the cerebral depressant beverage found throughout many of the Pacific Islands, which besides its daily use plays an important ceremonial and social role in the indigenous culture. This paper deals with yaqona cultivation and commercialisation in the Fijian peripheral island of Kadavu, from a perspective of more than 20 years. The findings suggest that the role of the plant as a major cash crop is even more important than it was in the first half of the 1980s. Moreover, the village semi-subsistence economy has become increasingly dependent on this crop as part of its survival strategy. The explanations offered are related to physical and ecological conditions and the associated agrotechnical advantages in Kadavu; marketing advantages and worsening terms of trade experienced by the Fijian periphery; and the lack of other economic opportunities in peripheral areas of Fiji, such as Kadavu - in turn, a function of core-periphery relationships. This is a response of the periphery to the increasing marginalisation within the Fiji state and may imply villagers' and communities' acceptance of their marginal position in the economy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-249
Number of pages16
JournalAsia Pacific Viewpoint
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Cash crop
  • Fiji
  • Kadavu
  • Kava
  • Peripheral area
  • Yaqona


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