Impoverished Pacific island nations aim to capitalise on famously potent spirit that can only be made from local plant

The Pacific island of Vanuatu is leading a push to standardise production of kava in a bid to increase exports of the narcotic drink and improve the quality for local drinkers.

The kava plant – Piper methysticum only grows in the south Pacific islands, with each one producing different varieties according to growing conditions, soil and climate, much like the different varieties of tea, coffee or wine.

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