The Solomon Star newspaper in a featured and illustrated article today claimed that kwaso brewers made big profits from the sale of illicit kwaso over Christmas. I quote the article.
During the Christmas and the New Year period kwaso brewers made a lot of money from the sale of their home-brewed alcohol.
The report said as most villagers could not afford to buy beer, they resorted to kwaso to get drunk.
A 330 ml bottle of kwaso costs $10 but in some places, the price can go up as high as $15.
One kwaso selling spot near Auki was observed to serve a good number of young customers.
A kwaso brewer told Solomon Star that he earned ‘big money’ just ahead of the Christmas and New Year period.
He said he usually brews his kwaso product at a private location to avoid disturbance from community leaders and police and that he only sells his product to trusted clients who work with him to keep his illegal business activity under wraps.
“I have to cook extra kwaso to meet the high demand from nearby communities. I earn thousands of dollars during Christmas. It is money for me and my family for Christmas.
“I know this is an illegal business activity but how I could a resist doing so when I make good quick money from it. Yes, kwaso is highly demanded during times as the Christmas and New Year’s period.
“The money I earn from my kwaso production really helps me and my family to meet our basic household needs as well as my children’s school fees. As the 2023 academic year is starting soon, I have to produce as much kwaso as possible to be able to pay for my children’s school fees,” the kwaso brewer said.
Police have issued information factsheets in Malaita, declaring the production, possession, selling and consumption of Kwaso as illegal in the country.
“If you are caught with any equipment for producing it, assisting other person, producing it, conveying it, selling it, in possession, consuming or buying it you will be arrested and charged.
“Penalty for the offence of Kwaso – The law will punish you if you are arrested for the offence of Kwaso. There is a fine of SBD $30,000. If found guilty you may be imprisoned for five years.”
End of quote.
In my time spent in the Solomon Islands and in the 26 years since that time the local illegal brewing, sale and consumption of kwaso has been a problem to the authorities, to the police and, the MHMS in particular.
Concerned health officials in 2008 stated that drinking kwaso was fast becoming a problem among young children causing drunkenness and in several incidences violence.
Kwaso consumption is also known to be a factor in domestic violence and assaults on wives and children, and it is certainly a major factor in health, being very high in alcohol content, often leading to liver and heart conditions, including high blood pressure.
People under 40 who consume unsafe amounts of alcohol face elevated health risks
According to the Solomon Star article, the police have issued information factsheets in Malaita, declaring the production, possession, selling and consumption of Kwaso as illegal in the country.
Frankly, in my view, issuing fact sheets is not going to stop the brewing, sale, and consumption of kwaso, and much more is needed by way of law enforcement and higher fines, coupled with longer terms of imprisonment for offenders, especially for repeat offenders.