SUVA, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- Travelers to Australia from Fiji can now carry across a maximum of 4kg of kava as of Tuesday.
This is with the exception of those traveling to Western Australia and the Northern Territory where restrictions are still in place.
Kava is a beverage or extract that is made from Piper methysticum, a plant native to the western Pacific islands.
Kava comes from the Polynesian word awa, which means bitter. In the South Pacific, kava is a popular social drink, similar to alcohol in Western societies.
The Office of the Drug Control under the Australian government's health department said the amount of kava that can be imported by a traveller for personal use has increased from 2kg to 4kg, according to a government statement on Tuesday.
Fijian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security Inia Seruiratu while welcoming the decision said it was timely for the Fijian diaspora in Australia and friends of Fiji and the Pacific as this will allow them to fulfill their cultural obligations and also socially enjoy kava over the festive season.
Seruiratu said the announcement was a culmination of months of discussions at all levels of government and is in line with commitments by Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to further strengthen the Fiji-Australia bilateral relationship under the Vuvale (Family) Partnership, which was signed in Canberra in September this year.
He said the announcement will strengthen people-to-people links between both countries.
Seruiratu thanked the Australian authorities for the swift implementation of this important element of the Vuvale Partnership.
The pilot program for the commercial import of kava to Australia has also been announced for implementation by the end of 2020.
Kava comes in different forms including brownish-coloured drink, brown powder, capsules, extracts and drops.
Kava is a depressant drug, which means it slows down the messages travelling between the brain and the body. In Fiji and the Pacific region it is used as a social drink in all social and traditional gatherings.