The Kingdom’s pepper exports to 20 countries from January to November 2022 were 8,303 tonnes, down more than 70 per cent compared to the same period in 2021, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Pepper exports to the 20 countries include Kampot pepper, a geographical indicator product, and regular pepper.

Cambodian Pepper and Spices Federation (CPSF) president Mak Ny said the reduction was due to pricing factors. Because the global economy has not yet recovered from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of tourists has declined. Without tourists, orders for specialist grocery items such as pepper were on the decline.

“Farmers are not seriously affected. When sales decline like this, most farmers stockpile pepper and have an understanding of how to manage income and expenses. A small number of farmers are affected by the issue of budget transfer,” he added.

He continued that in general Cambodia can produce around 20,000 tonnes of regular pepper a year from a total area of nearly 7,000 ha, but this has declined by about 10 to 20 per cent.

He claimed that pepper is cultivated mostly to meet export demands, as domestic consumption of accounts for only 5 to 7 per cent of the pepper produced each year.

Kampot Pepper Promotion Association president Ngoun Lay said sales have declined significantly from the beginning of 2022 until now. November saw just over 80 tonnes sold, while in the same period last year, more than 114 tonnes of pepper were sold.

He added that orders seemed to have faltered, with most companies claiming that it was due to the depreciation of the euro against the dollar. Most of them use the dollar to buy pepper from the association. Other issues, such as the crisis in Ukraine, continue to prolong the reduction in orders.

“Because of the war crisis in Ukraine, the demand for luxury products by people in the EU was reduced, so orders are on the decline accordingly,” he said, citing the companies.

He continued that the problem will continue through this year, as wholesalers had begun to ask farmers to discount the price of Kampot pepper. The farmers had not yet agreed to do so, as their profit margins are already tight.

He said many orders that were generally made every year had failed to arrive this year, with few reservations being made by any international wholesalers.

He stated that 31 companies are members of the association, but only six large companies have signed contracts with the farmers. The land used for growing pepper has declined from 290ha to 240ha because some farmers have given up growing pepper.

Cambodia has 18 provinces that grow pepper. The highest pepper cultivating provinces are Mondulkiri, Ratanakkiri, Tbong Khmum and Kampot.