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GI tag to create buzz around honey

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Mondulkiri wild honey collection could yield around 10-20 tonnes this year, much lower than the 60 tonnes logged in each of 2019 and 2020. WWF-CAMBODIA

GI tag to create buzz around honey

A long-awaited Geographical Indication (GI) certificate handover ceremony for “Mondulkiri wild honey” scheduled for April 6 was postponed in light of the February 20 community transmission.

Made in the northeastern province’s forested areas from the Apis dorsata bee, the Ministry of Commerce domestically registered the honey as a GI on January 29, improving prospects of a brighter future for the golden, viscous fluid.

Mondulkiri wild honey became the fourth domestic GI product after Kampot pepper, Kampong Speu palm sugar and Koh Trong pomelos.

Its newly acquired status offers protection for appellations of origin linked to specific geographical locations and associated qualities, reputations and characteristics. The designation also promotes knowledge transfer and skills development across generations.

Ministry spokesman Pen Sovicheat told The Post on April 6 that GI registration is an important tool to encourage the community to strengthen and expand productions chains, improve systematic quality control, produce high-quality products and access export markets.

“It’ll also help promote value-added Mondulkiri wild honey on the market. Most notably, its selling price will be higher and it’ll be recognised in domestic and international markets, which will provide an additional modest source of income for producers in the geographical area,” he said.

He noted that the status could also alleviate poverty if the honey is integrated into the greater One Village, One Product (OVOP) Movement – a government initiative to create jobs for locals, reduce migration and attract tourists.

Cambodian Institute for Research and Rural Development director Prak Sereyvath pointed out that the GI tag’s intellectual property rights protections and quality control processes would most likely drive up the prices of Mondulkiri wild honey.

On the other hand, orders from abroad will start flowing in, as efforts to preserve the traditional craft of honey-collection ramp up, indirectly contributing to environmental protection, he said.

“GI protection will allow [those who have the right to use the indication], particularly Mondulkiri wild honey collectors and consumers, to claim [the] withdrawal of counterfeit products from [the] market and [in] doing so provide more market share for [Mondulkiri] wild honey” and increase consumer interest in the product, he said.

Mondulkiri Wild Bee Conservation Association (MWBCA) president Kernh Bophat said members of the community would see more bang for their buck now with the GI status.

However, he noted that Mondulkiri wild honey collection would only yield around 10-20 tonnes this year, falling well short of the more than the 60 tonnes logged in each of 2019 and 2020.

“I don’t know why honey this year has fallen so much. The number of bees and flowers does not seem to have changed, it’s just a little warmer than last year,” he said.

Harvested between March and June each year, Bophat noted that Mondulkiri wild honey is characterised by its unique type of sweetness and fragrance, as well as its high viscosity.

He said the association buys honey from members at 60,000 riel ($15) per litre and resells it at 70,000-75,000 riel after removing moisture and wax.

According to Bophat, MWBCA currently has 11 wild bee collectors and 516 registered members.

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