Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - GI status for Tbong Khmum pepper unlikely

GI status for Tbong Khmum pepper unlikely

A spice worker sorts organic pepper corns in Phnom Penh in 2014.
A spice worker sorts organic pepper corns in Phnom Penh in 2014. Eli Meixler

GI status for Tbong Khmum pepper unlikely

With 72 per cent of Cambodian black pepper production coming from Tbong Khmum province, agriculture officials are calling for it to receive Geographic Indicator (GI) status to promote the spice for export.

Hean Vanhan, deputy-general director of the general department of agriculture, said yesterday that if the Tbong Khmum black pepper could get GI status it could rival its well-known Kampot cousin.

According to agriculture data, Cambodia has produced a total of 11,819 tonnes of black pepper already this year, an increase of nearly 20 per cent compared to 2015.

Tbong Khmum province alone made up 8,566 tonnes over 2,762 hectares of land.

“If Tbong Khmum pepper could be granted the GI protection, we could further export and add more value to our product,” he said, adding that the pepper was primarily exported to Vietnam.

Compared to the farmable area of Kampot, production capacity is limited, he added.

“So we should promote the largest production area and give it the highest value.”

However, pepper associations in Tbong Khmum province doubted that it would be able to meet the strict qualifications for GI inclusion given the lack of capital and human resources available.

Hong San, director of Da Memot pepper agriculture development cooperative in Tbong Khmum province, said that even though the province produces an outstanding spice, it does not meet organic or geographic qualifications.

“We need to have more capital and original pepper species for organic farming if we would ever be able to be considered for GI protection,” he said.

“About 95 per cent of farmers prefer to farm without organic methods in order to make sure we can achieve a higher quantity at a lower price,” he said. On average, Tbong Khmum pepper sells for $10 per kilo while Kampot pepper sells for $15 per kilo.

While GI protection is a good tool to promote local agricultural products to the international market, Soeng Sophary, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said the authorities would need adequate time to conduct feasibility studies to see if province’s pepper would even qualify.

“It is a good idea to promote any agriculture product, but we need time and capital as well as to develop its reputation in the market in order for it to apply for GI status,” she said, adding that the government had to invest at least $1 million to study the quality of Kampot pepper and define a geographic location.

“We do not have a budget set aside to study Tbong Khmum pepper,” she said.

According to Ministry of Commerce, the Kingdom exported 146 tonnes of pepper last year valued at $1.5 million. As of the first quarter of 2016, pepper exports generated $92,000 in revenue at just over 6 tonnes.

MOST VIEWED

  • Reports: Rainsy barred from Jakarta flight

    Sam Rainsy was on Wednesday refused entry to a flight from Malaysia to Indonesia, media reported late on Wednesday. The “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party’s announced return to the Kingdom on Independence Day on Saturday failed to occur. Rainsy

  • Government studying EU’s preliminary report on EBA

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on Wednesday said the government was studying the EU Commission’s preliminary report on the human rights situation in the Kingdom that could lead to a suspension of access to its “Everything But Arms” (EBA) agreement. The

  • Phnom Penh International Airport wins award as passenger traffic soars

    The Phnom Penh International Airport has been awarded Best Asia Pacific Regional Airport 2019 for its sustained high growth in passenger traffic in recent years. The award was presented by the Capa Centre for Aviation (Capa) – a world-leading and trusted organisation that provides market intelligence to

  • Gov’t: Rainsy’s ‘coup plot’ a failure

    The government on Wednesday commended the Kingdom’s security forces for thwarting the attempted “coup plot” by former opposition leader Sam Rainsy through his announced return to Cambodia on November 9. The comments came as Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue

  • PM responds to Rainsy ticket claims

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday expressed frustration over claims by Sam Rainsy that he had altered Rainsy’s ticket with Thai Airways to prevent him boarding his November 7 flight to Thailand, from where he had claimed he would enter Cambodia. Hun Sen made the

  • Chinese tourists lead international visitors

    Chinese tourists again topped the list of foreign visitors to Cambodia during the first nine months of this year, with the Ministry of Tourism on Wednesday reporting a 30 per cent increase on the same period last year. The Kingdom received 4.81 million international tourists in that