The Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the globe has ground Kampot’s pepper market to a halt as exports stall and about 40 per cent of farmers have stopped caring for their crops.
Kampot Pepper Promotion Association (KPPA) president Nguon Lay told The Post on Sunday that the demand for Kampot pepper has dwindled due to the spread of Covid-19.
He said farmers have been forced to store their pepper products in hopes that European and US markets, the largest markets for Kampot pepper, resume their orders once the pandemic has passed.
“This year, we haven’t sold a single grain of pepper yet. We are depending on exports to Europe and the US. Today, they are suffering an outbreak of Covid-19. The businesses there are closed, which means no orders.
“Even the local tourism sector, which accounts for 30 per cent of the pepper market, has completely stalled. However, we are expecting to regain that market and stabilise prices as the crisis dies down,” said Lay.
He said that as orders dry up, about 40 per cent of farmers had given up caring for and harvesting their crops because there are no profits to be made.
He added that the pepper harvest, which runs from January 1 to June 30, has yielded around 100 tonnes so far this year, a slight decrease from the 120 tonnes harvested last year.
Lay said the Kingdom exported 78 tonnes of Kampot pepper last year.
Prices currently stand at $15 per kilogramme of black pepper, $25 per kilogramme of red pepper and $28 per kilogramme of white pepper, he said.
In 2010, the World Trade Organisation granted Kampot pepper geographical indication (GI) status, which increases its market value and prevents other entities from replicating it.
The crop currently covers a cultivation area of 250ha, exclusively in Kampot and Kep provinces.
KPPA’s membership has grown from 387 families and 21 distributors in 2017 to 440 families and 38 distributors this year, said Lay.