Cambodia shipped out 34,918.44 tonnes of pomelos to international markets in the first 11 months of 2021, representing a nearly 120 per cent year-on-year surge, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Thailand was the main buyer during the period with 34,854 tonnes, followed by Vietnam (64.44 tonnes).

Chean Rina, president of the Kratie province-based Koh Trong Pomelo Producer Association, told The Post that this year’s harvest was higher than in 2020 due to favourable weather and increased cultivation, but noted that the quality of the citrus fruit noticeably went down.

Some of the pomelos were dry or without much flesh, which baffled the association, she said, pointing out that the farmers in Koh Trong commune grow the trees without using chemicals.

She said there is no official data on crop yields in the island commune – a part of Kratie town – and added that farmers grow and sell their produce independently.

“This year’s output is higher than last year’s, but prices have fallen slightly due to poor quality. This shouldn’t be a problem for the market,” Rina said, adding that the capital is the main destination for the pomelos.

Sitha, a farmer in Koh Trong, said the pomelos specifically grown on the island have gained wider recognition due to the geographical indication (GI) tag, adding that visitors enjoy their taste and admire the size of the fruit.

“Koh Trong pomelos are very abundant during October-November, but now in December they’re starting to get scarce, so prices are also higher, ranging from 7,000-8,000 riel [$1.72-1.97] a pop,” she said.

According to the association president, the island’s population is almost exclusively made up of pomelo growers.

Rina said 200 households grow 13,790 trees on a total area of 35ha, each plant which yields at least 100 pomelos each year.

In June 2018, the “Koh Trong Pomelo” was awarded the prestigious GI status by the World Intellectual Property Organisation. The Ministry of Commerce had reportedly applied for the label in a bid to protect the identity of the traditional product and stimulate economic growth.