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Kampot pepper hit by climate change

Green pepper at a plantation in Kampot province. Paul Arps/Flickr
Green pepper at a plantation in Kampot province. Paul Arps/Flickr

Kampot pepper hit by climate change

Farmers of Kampot pepper have had a rough planting season due to climate change, but the decrease in production is unlikely to seriously affect the market, according to the head of the Kampot Pepper Promotion Association (KPPA).

KPPA President Ngoun Lay said he expected his members to harvest just 75 tonnes of pepper by the end of the growing season in June, which would mark a 26 percent decrease compared to last year’s production.

“The yield is less than last year, as in the beginning of season, the flowers of the pepper plant fell a lot because of climate change,” Lay said, adding that it wouldn’t be an immediate problem for farmers due to adequate reserves.

The KPPA is the governing body of farmers who label their pepper as Kampot pepper, which was given geographical indication (GI) status from the World Trade Organization in 2010.

The association’s membership swelled from 387 farmers and 21 distributors last year to 440 farmers and 29 distributors this year, according Lay.

Last year, the group’s members produced 102 tonnes of pepper but sold just 67 tonnes, and currently have about 60 tonnes in reserves, he said.

Kampot pepper’s GI area currently stands at 250 hectares located in Kampot and Kep provinces, of which 110 hectares have mature pepper plants and are able to be harvested.

Although buyers have not yet placed orders for pepper, Lay said he wasn’t concerned given the early date and the growth of his association.

“Buyers already told us they are coming to order,” he said. “We don’t worry about the market much, since we already have a lot of distribution companies.”

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