Kampot pepper production almost doubled during 2015’s harvest season compared to last year’s, although prices have remained flat, according to an industry representative.
Production increased thanks to an expansion of the area under cultivation and better preparation from farmers, according to Ngoun Lay, president of the Kampot Pepper Association.
“We expected only 50 tonnes for this harvest season, but the pepper yield was higher than we expected,” Lay said.
“We are happy about this increase because our pepper production is meeting demand, while we retain 10 tonnes of reserves.”
The pepper harvest season lasts from January to May. Lay said that farmers who experienced droughts last year stored enough water to maintain and expand their pepper plantations during 2015’s harvest.
Some 25 hectares of pepper plantations were harvested this year out of the 110 hectares under cultivation, up from 24 hectares harvested out of 90 in 2014, Lay added.
“Currently, there are more and more investors interested in investing with us, and now we have up to 241 families join us,” he said.
While yields have increased, prices have remained stagnant, with white pepper at $26 to $28 per kilogram, red pepper at $25 to $26 per kilogram and black pepper at $15 to $16.
Six districts in the southern province of Kampot have pepper farms, while the spice’s overseas market consists mostly of Europe, the United States, Japan, Korea, and
Kampot pepper farmer Si Nouch said his half-hectare farm produced about 400 kilograms of pepper this year, and that the market was hungry for more.
“I will increase my production in 2016 to meet market demand,” said Nouch.
“It was because of the hot weather that I could not produce a high yield.”
Kampot pepper obtained the World Trade Organization’s geographical indication status in 2010, tying the quality of the product to its source.
International demand for the product has risen since then.