The Ministry of Commerce has flagged “Takeo crayfish” as a potential Geographical Indication (GI), in a bid to build a more substantial reputation around the freshwater crustacean found primarily in the eastern reaches of the southern province of Takeo.
This latest contender for the coveted GI tag is a variety of Australian red-claw crayfish, also known by its scientific name Cherax quadricarinatus.
Suon Vichea, director of the ministry’s Department of Intellectual Property Rights, told The Post that the ministry, in collaboration with national and international experts, has organised virtual conferences with the Takeo provincial Department of Commerce and trader representatives on the promotion of the geographical brand and plans for GI registration.
He said the associated team has gathered input from traders and set up an interim committee to compile a booklet that presents a detailed profile on the breeding and rearing of the crustacean, the managing association, internal regulations, the design and layout of the GI logo, and other pertinent information.
“In order to implement this project effectively, the Ministry of Commerce plans to invite traders, stakeholders and local authorities to a workshop later this month to participate in the compilation of the booklet,” he added.
Vichea expects the ministry to complete the preliminary procedures by end-April, leading to the registration of the GI and official recognition – not necessarily on the same day.
Rim Zip, a Takeo crayfish seller for more than 30 years based in provincial town Donkeo, argued that the lobster-like crustacean had already garnered a bit of fame, but acknowledged that it could stand to benefit from GI certification.
He said the crayfish are exclusively found in the wild in eastern Takeo’s Angkor Borei and Borei Cholsar districts, where they are most abundant between August and January, which coincides with much of the rainy season.
He added that the crustaceans – whether fished or farmed – have a distinct size and flavour that is very recognisable by national and international tourists.
“Once the Takeo crayfish is designated as a GI, it’ll be one of our vendors’ best-selling products, and its taste will be recognised nationwide,” he said.
Including natural and farmed Australian red-claw crayfish, as well as Vietnam imports, Zip claims he can sell an average of 80-100kg per day on weekdays and 200-300kg on weekends and holidays.
Ear Ouk, another crayfish seller in the province, said her sales had taken a Covid hit, with fewer orders coming in from shops and restaurants.
Sales improved slightly as domestic tourism picked back up, but not to previous levels, she said, bemoaning that there are now more vendors than ever, resulting in increased competition.
“With Takeo crayfish registered as a GI, customers would be more confident in its quality, and sales would improve,” Ouk said.
According to the two traders, Australian red-claw crayfish costs nearly $50 per kg for first-grade product, more than $30 for second-grade, over $20 for third-grade, and $20-25 for farmed produce imported from Vietnam.