‘Mondulkiri wild honey” has been officially inaugurated with geographical indication (GI) status that ministers and officials hope will accordingly increase its value, thereby creating local jobs and improving livelihoods.
The inauguration ceremony for Mondulkiri wild honey as a GI was held on March 27 in Sen Monorom town, Mondulkiri province, presided over by Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak, and attended by provincial governor Thorng Savun, along with representatives from the environment ministry, the provincial agriculture department, diplomatic missions, the Mondulkiri Wild Bee Conservation Association (MWBCA), and national and international development organisations.
Made in the northeastern province’s forested areas from the Apis dorsata bee, the commerce ministry domestically registered the honey as a GI on January 29, 2021, a tag that offers protection for appellations of origin linked to specific geographical locations and associated qualities, reputations and characteristics. The designation also seeks to promote knowledge transfer and skills development across generations.
Initially scheduled for April 6, 2021, March 27’s event was pushed back due to the third coronavirus outbreak that swept the Kingdom last year – dubbed the “February 20 community event” marking the date it was first detected.
Sorasak said that the commerce ministry will cooperate with local authorities and relevant ministries and institutions to “participate in the development of the Mondulkiri wild honey GI through infrastructure management by the MWBCA for the province to become a tourism destination”.
He said that developing such tourism infrastructure would attract tourists to the region in accordance with the government’s 2021-2035 master plan on tourism development in Mondulkiri province.
Maintaining and ensuring the reputation of Mondulkiri wild honey and taking advantage of the GI “relies on each member of the community”, Sorasak said, as he urged the community to “be united and maintain honesty, integrity and good governance, transparency and accountability” in the process of harvesting and selling the honey.
Sorasak added that the Mondulkiri wild honey GI will “provide real value and ensure sustainability for the next generation”.
“The ‘Mondulkiri wild honey’ GI … will play a key part in the promotion of the traditional culture of Cambodians in the international arena,” he said.
Mondulkiri provincial agriculture department director Song Kheang told The Post that the GI certification is a “clearer indication” of the quality and value of Mondulkiri wild honey products compared to before.
“This [honey] is the pride of the people of Mondulkiri, who will benefit from participating in the sustainability of the forest and the extraction and sale of forest products to improve their livelihoods.
“Development partners, communities and authorities alike need to support and contribute to the trade by making this honey sustainable,” he said.
MWBCA president Sroeuv Sovanny said that the acquisition of GI status has pushed the price of Mondulkiri wild honey slightly higher and that there are “no worries” about the market.
He said that Mondulkiri wild honey gained GI for a number of factors including area conservation and proper division of community forests, sustainable honey harvesting in accordance with international standards and cleanliness in the honey harvesting process.
“Wild honey from Mondulkiri province is derived from a special variety of flower nectar in the forest that our community has preserved, and customers who have tasted the honey always appreciate that it is sweeter than honey from elsewhere,” he said.
As a result of the certification, Sovanny said the association plans to expand its membership to “meet market demand”.
The association members’ bee harvesting is centred in Sen Monorom town, the neighbouring districts of Keo Seima to the southwest and Pech Chreada to the north, and Koh Nhek district further north, with a total of more than 440 members spread across 11 groups.
Every year, the association collects an average of just over 30 tonnes of honey between March and May. The amount of honey available is not enough to meet market demand, Sovanny said, so the association plans to expand the bee harvesting by recruiting more staff, an expansion which is “dependent on the size of the forest”, he said.
Mondulkiri wild honey can be sold for $12,000 to $13,500 per tonne, depending on the viscosity of the honey.