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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - GI status leads to a boom for Kampot pepper trade

GI status leads to a boom for Kampot pepper trade

Kampot Pepper certified with Geographical Indicator status has sold out in Cambodia within months of being officially registered, blazing a trail for several domestic commodities under consideration for this international standard.

“Before GI status we never sold out of stock during the harvest season of January to the end of May,” said Nguon Lay, president of the Kampot Pepper Farmers’ Association.

“But once we got GI, all the orders came at the same time.”

GI status is an internationally accepted standard that protects the intellectual property rights of a product linked to a specific geographical location or origin – the same status tying production of the sparkling wine champagne to the Champagne region in France.

Kampong Speu palm sugar, which received the GI stamp the same day as the pepper, has similarly seen demand balloon since April.

“I noticed that after we got GI there was high demand from abroad,” said Sam Saroeurn, president of Kampong Speu Palm Sugar Promotion Association.

From 400,000 tonnes of sugar produced last harvest, only 30 tonnes met the standard.

“I hope we will be able to increase our production by about 20 percent this harvest season – November to April – to meet the increase in demand,” he said.

Lao Reasey, chief of the Ministry of Commerce’s GI bureau, said the amount of work and money that went into achieving GI-certification was worthwhile, with pepper farmers gaining the most benefit.

“Kampot pepper used to sell for about $3 per kilo, and now it can sell for $5.75 per kilo,” he said

The bureau is focusing its energies on two new products for GI consideration – Durian Kampot and Neang Oum Rice – with the proposals expected to be submitted “very soon”.

It had shelved plans to request the other four domestic products previously under consideration – including Siem Reap fish paste, Battambang rice, Phnom Srok silk and Pursat cardamom – because of “budget constraints”, he said.

Dom Price, owner of Kampot province guesthouse and restaurant Rikitikitavi, welcomed the success of the local pepper, though he was not sure what it might mean for his Kampot pepper-laden menu.

“We’d be pretty disappointed if it has run out,” he said. He had about a month’s worth of stock left in his stores.

Around 17 tonnes of pepper was produced in the 2010 season on 9.75 hectares of farmland in Kampot province. Only 10 tonnes met the GI quality standard, Nguon Lay said, of which around 6 tonnes were exported abroad.

“We expect to increase production by at least 10 percent next year – all our members are trying to increase to keep up with the high demand.”
He said he was also hopeful of a price increase.

The price has stayed level since January when the GI campaign was well under way.

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