Cambodia exported more than 4,121 tonnes of finished pepper products in the first nine months of 2020, up more than 21 per cent year-on-year, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture told The Post on Monday that Cambodia’s exports of GI (geographical indication) and non-GI pepper during this period went to many markets including Japan, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Switzerland, Vietnam, the US, Russia, Britain, India, Belarus, Korea, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Thailand, Taiwan, Sweden, Singapore and Australia.

“Our pepper has been strong in the international markets in recent years,” he said.

Cambodian Pepper and Spices Federation President Mak Ny told The Post on Monday that although pepper exports continued to increase, pepper prices have not recovered.

He said federation members exported a total of about 3,000 tonnes of pepper in the first nine months of this year and the price of pepper is ranging between 9,000 riel and 10,000 riel ($2.20-$2.50) per kilogram.

“The price of pepper does not allow farmers to profit because our production costs are still high. We believe the price farmers need to profit is 12,000 riel and up,” he said.

Cambodian pepper relies on the markets of Vietnam and Thailand, and some pepper products are exported to the German market through private companies that are members of the federation.

NY estimates pepper yield in 2020 will continue to decline, with between 15,000 and 17,000 tonnes harvested on a total of 7,000ha while last year’s yield was 21,000 tonnes.

“Pepper yields have been declining for many years due to damage caused by weather problems and farmers quitting because of the low prices,” he said.

Ny said he is optimistic, however, the bilateral free trade agreement between Cambodia and China, which will enter into force next year, will help open up more non-GI pepper markets.

“Through this agreement, we want markets in China, the US, Korea and other destinations because our pepper is good quality and tastier than Vietnamese pepper.

“We are pleased the government has established the FTA with China, as well as agreements with Korea and other countries. It will allow our members the opportunity to export pepper products to the international market,” he said.

A Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries report shows the total export of pepper, both GI and non-GI pepper, was more than 3,693 tonnes in 2019, an increase of 53.17 per cent compared to the same period in 2018.