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Marketing campaign for GI produce to start

091002_08
A Kampot farmer holds up fresh Kampot pepper in this file photo. The product is set to achieve geographical indicator status this month, said those involved in the project.

But those working on the initiative say that Kampot pepper and Kampong Speu sugar won’t get GI status until later this month.

KAMPOT pepper and Kampong Speu palm sugar are unlikely to have received geographic indicator (GI) status by the time they launch their promotional campaigns next week. However, Kampot Pepper Farmer Association President Nguon Lay and Cambodian Sugar Association President Sam Saroeun said Thursday that both are expected to be officially registered with the Ministry of Commerce this month.
“We will submit the proposal to the commerce ministry on October 5 and hope that it will be registered this month,” Nguon Lay said at the end of an association meeting Thursday.

Sam Saroeun said: “Now we have met all requirements for GI status, as scheduled, and will submit the proposal for Kampong Speu palm sugar to the Commerce Ministry on October 12 and hope it will be approved soon after submission.”

A promotional campaign for the two products, which is expected to trade on their GI status, is planned for Wednesday at Phnom Penh’s Malis restaurant. The French Development Agency, the European Commission and the Ministry of Commerce have been working with producers for more than two years to prepare the products for registration.

As part of that process, associations were established and a wealth of supporting documents produced for the official submission. Required documentation included detailed booklets on the products, production methods, and marketing and sales plans.

Under the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS, GI status prevents producers from labelling their products with a geographic location unless the foodstuff has been produced there. The most common example is that of Champagne, which can only be so labelled if it is from the Champagne region of France.

Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh has signed a prakas, or edict, that temporarily protects GI items until a law on the Protection of Geographical Indication Products can be passed.

Under WTO rules, GI status cannot be awarded to a country’s products until that country has laws to ensure compliance can be enforced.

Prak Sereyvath, managing director of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) and consultant to the commerce ministry on its GI project, confirmed that the products would “probably be recognised as GI products sometime this month”.

Nguon Lay said he expected that GI status would boost the beleaguered Kampot pepper sector, which has seen sales drop drastically this year.

“Just 4 tonnes of this year’s total output of 14 tonnes have been sold so far,” he said. “The poor market demand has put farmers in financial difficulty, but we expect that the pepper will sell well again when it gains GI status.”

White Kampot pepper sells for around US$10 a kilogram, red pepper for $8 and black $1, but Nguon Lay said the price would be boosted by $1 per kilogram when the product received official recognition.

Kampot durian, Siem Reap prahok (fish paste) and Mondulkiri honey are also targeting GI status, though it is expected the approval process will be faster because the groundwork has now been laid.

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