The Ministry of Commerce will not grant any Geographical Indication (GI) designations this year, due to a lack of formal applications, said the ministry’s Department of Intellectual Property Rights director Op Rady.
The ministry currently lists three local products as having GI status – Kampot’s pepper, Kampong Speu province’s palm sugar and pomelos grown in Kratie province’s Koh Trong commune.
Rady told The Post that the ongoing health crisis may be a reason for the absence of applications, as producers struggle to maintain their operations.
He noted that the GI registration process is not easy or fast due to the red tape and availability of funds for officials to make field visits – issues which are made worse by the pandemic.
Still, he said, the process would take no more than two years.
“GI registration is like building roads. It takes a long time and occasionally sees potholes along the way,” said Rady.
He said formal applications require a lot of collaboration from farmer associations, relevant stakeholders, experts and the ministry.
“GI registration provides many special benefits, including the right to block any party from claiming GI status to manufacture products without authorisation,” said Rady.
He noted that GI-listed products are rare, and that not all products are eligible for the coveted status.
GI expert and Kampot Pepper Promotion Association adviser Sok Sarang said GI status offers farming communities and stakeholders a number of benefits.
“The GI designation will help promote the reputation of regional high-quality products, production and cultivation, and curb counterfeits while guaranteeing higher, more stable prices,” said Sarang.
He said being awarded the status is an arduous process. “To apply for GI registration, you first have to put together a team of community producers, setting territorial zoning [limits for production] and implementing a monitoring system.”
The ministry’s secretary of state Tek Reth Kamrong previously said the Kingdom plans to submit six products for GI registration in the EU.
These products are rice that is grown in Battambang province’s Thma Koul district, Pursat oranges, Kampot durians, Kampot salt, silk produced in Banteay Meanchey province’s Phnom Srok district, and steamed balut (fertilised duck egg) from Takeo province’s Sre Ronong commune.