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Pepper not to be sneezed at

Pepper not to be sneezed at

KAMPOT Pepper yields are expected to increase significantly in the first harvest since gaining Geographic Indicator status in April, as increased demand from exporters drives up prices.

Output this season is expected to surge by 60 percent, from 10 tonnes at the last harvest to 16 tonnes, this harvest. The increase has been driven by new plantings, which will start to bear fruit when the harvesting season begins next month.

Nguon Lay, director of the Kampot Pepper Farmers Association, said the number of fruitful pepper plants grown by his association had increased from 19,000 tree clusters in 2009 to 27,000 this year. The area of planted land had increased from 9.75 hectares to 12 hectares.

He said the entire output had already been ordered ahead of harvest by 14 export companies.

“Before we harvested and sacked the pepper and waited to sell to buyers, but now we sell it on the plants,” he said.

The increased demand follows Kampot pepper gaining Geographic Indicator certification in April.

GI is an internationally-accepted standard that protects the intellectual property rights of a product from a specific geographical region, such as champagne from France’s Champagne region.

Prices have also increased since GI certification. Nguon Lay said that, according to contracts with exporters, black pepper seeds would sell for US$7 per kilogram this harvest, an increase of $1.25 over the previous harvest.

White and red pepper seeds would sell for $15 per kilogram, compared with between $10.50 to $12.50 last season.

Most of this year’s harvest is destined for world markets, notably France, as well as the United States and Japan.Chhorn Ravuth, manager of Confirel Co Ltd (Cambodia), said his company had ordered more than a tonne to export to the European market. He said he had “deep confidence” in the market, and the association should expand its planting.

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