Czech-Cambodian firm EU Land and Pepper Investment Co Ltd has vowed to buy 50 per cent of all produce cultivated by its contracted smallholder growers this year to ramp up exports, with the European market in its sights.
CEO David Pavel told The Post that since its 2018 beginnings, his company focuses purely on helping the growers of Kampot pepper with the smallest, least viable farms and who are unable to market themselves.
He said: “We do not own any farm for that reason. We set up our own private company in Cambodia back in 2018 to be able to help farmers and buy their Kampot Pepper for [a] 100 per cent fair trade price which is paid always directly to their hands.”
After buying, the company is responsible for each step of the process – logistics, paperwork, export, quality control and packaging, he said.
He said the company is working very closely with the main trade body Kampot Pepper Promotion Association (KPPA).
“We commit to buying 50 per cent of all production from our smallest farmers in 2021. Next year and for upcoming years we want to [increase that to] 100 per cent of their production. This [is] all only after three years of the existence of our project,” Pavel said.
Around 175 Kampot-pepper farm households have entered into contract farming agreements to supply EU Land and Pepper Investment with 10 tonnes of peppercorns for the 2021 harvest season.
KPPA president Nguon Lay told The Post on February 7 that the ministry’s assistance would help provide Kampot pepper a strong market in the international scene.
“More feedback gives growers more hope. The Ministry of Commerce will help prepare a 2021-2023 strategy for Kampot pepper,” he said.
He said 42 companies have entered contract farming with small-scale Kampot pepper farmers for the 2021 harvest season.
Cambodia exported more than 70 tonnes of Kampot pepper to the international market last year, he said, adding that the crop is shipped out to more than 50 countries today, mostly those in Europe.
According to Pavel, the company focuses on “completely different” and new innovative marketing strategies that have a direct impact on sales and export.
He said: “Our commitment for 2021 towards the smallest farmers and KPPA is 10 tonnes and we are becoming one of the biggest exporters and processors [of] Kampot Pepper.”
Following the company’s “inspirational” marketing campaigns and relative success on EU markets, he said he has met with the Ministry of Commerce and the geographical indication (GI) bureau under the ministry’s Department of Intellectual Property Rights on numerous occasions, vowing to be more involved this year in marketing and promoting Kampot Pepper worldwide, as well as working closely with KPPA.
According to KPPA, the land designated for Kampot pepper cultivation has increased from 10ha in 2010 to 290ha as of April last year – exclusively in Kampot and Kep – which can yield 82.78 tonnes of the commodity per annum.
And according to Lay, prices now stand at $15 per kg for black pepper, $25 per kg for red pepper and $28 per kg for white pepper – unchanged for over five years.
The latest KPPA data released in April show that membership increased to 455 households last year from 118 in 2010 when it first registered with the ministry. But Lay told The Post on November 4 that 68 out of the association’s then-447 households had abandoned the crop.