Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina touted the popularity of locally-grown organic pepper and urged farmers and businesses to cultivate and package the product in line with phytosanitary standards to boost exports.

Tina made the suggestion during his January 27 visit to Sela Pepper, an organic pepper producer in Tbong Khmum province’s Memot district, to learn about the company’s production chain, from cleaning and packaging all the way to the laboratory tests before export.

“Khmer organic pepper is popular and in high demand in both export and domestic markets. To exploit its sales potential, we need to cultivate and package the products in line with international hygiene and phytosanitary standards and best agricultural practices. Such products command higher prices,” he said.

He suggested that the General Department of Agriculture cooperate with the provincial department to ensure that more farmers will receive Good Agricultural Practices (CAM GAP) certificates in the future.

According to the ministry, pepper exports to 20 countries from January to November 2022 reached 8,303.92 tonnes, a decrease of more than 70 per cent over 2021, when 27,730.07 tonnes were exported.

Mak Ny, president of the Cambodian Pepper and Spices Federation (CPSF), attributed the decline in peppercorn exports to pricing factors and a general downturn in the global economy.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, he said Cambodia had a total of nearly 7,000ha of pepper plantations, but this has decreased by 10 to 20 per cent.

“Pepper cultivation is almost all aimed at meeting export demand. Domestic consumption accounts for just five to seven per cent of our annual production,” he noted.

Pepper is grown in 18 of the Kingdom’s provinces, with Mondulkiri, Ratanakkiri, Tbong Khmum and Kampot having the most land under cultivation.