Communities in western Kampong Thom’s Sankoa commune at the heart of a centuries-old tradition of cooking and preparing rice flakes that are characteristically eaten during the Kingdom’s annual water festival are set to enjoy a shared sense of a dedication to their craft as the Ministry of Commerce designates their product as a “collective trademark”.
The flakes are cooked rice that is fried dry and pounded by mortar and pestle. The ministry has labelled the rice flakes made in Sankoa – located in the western reaches of Kampong Svay district – as “Ambok Kampong Thom”.
And Suon Vichea, director of the ministry’s Department of Intellectual Property Rights, defines collective trademarks as signs that distinguish products by geographical origin, industry, quality or other common characteristics.
They are registered under an owner, he told The Post, usually an organisation composed of businesses, merchants and professionals from the same industry or geographical region that pools resources, shares information and provides other benefits for its members.
According to ministry secretary of state Ouk Prachea, the designation is expected to improve preservation of the region’s time-honoured Khmer heritage of ambok-making, draw tourists, create jobs and champion the economic development of the local population.
He was speaking at the General Assembly of the Kampong Thom Ambok Producers on February 16.
Prachea said the designation would bring together skilled ambok producers and spur training and knowledge-sharing programmes, creativity, as well as the development of novel formulas and methods for future generations.
“I would like to encourage the ‘Ambok Kampong Thom’ producers and relevant authorities to work together and carry out the project to a successful completion with a ‘One Village, One Product’ approach.
“This will be beneficial to rural development and trim down poverty and migration, which will contribute to the development of the national economy and bring it to another level,” he said.
Kampong Thom Provincial Administration spokesman Yov Sengkun noted that the collective trademark registration was a first for the province.
He said the trademark will encourage locals to ramp up production and quality to meet demand and enhance the label’s reputation.
“With the ‘Ambok Kampong Thom’ collective trademark in tow, the market will become all the more solid and help producers earn more money,” he said.
According to Sengkun, authorities are now eyeing cashew nuts as a potential collective trademark to register under the province.
Earlier this year, the ministry unveiled plans to register four other products as collective trademarks.
These are “Nom Banh Chok Siem Reap” (a local variety of rice noodle), the silver-copper sculpting typical of Kampong Luong and Koh Chin communes in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district, Kampong Chhnang province-style pottery, as well as steamed balut from Sre Ronong commune in Takeo province’s Tram Kak district.
The ministry also intends to domestically register three products as geographical indication (GI) – “Kampot Salt”, “Fleur de Sel” (flower of salt) and “Mondulkiri Wild Honey”.
“Fleur de Sel” is a type of salt mainly associated with the northern coast France that forms as a delicate, flaky crust on the surface of seawater, while “Mondulkiri Wild Honey” is produced in the northeastern province’s forested areas from the Apis dorsata bee.