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To bee or not to bee: GI sought for Mondulkiri honey

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A bee hive is seen in Mondulkiri province. WWF-Cambodia

To bee or not to bee: GI sought for Mondulkiri honey

The Cambodian Institute for Research and Rural Development (CIRD) is processing the registration of Mondulkiri wild honey as a geographical indication (GI) product to prevent others from misrepresenting their product origins using the name Mondulkiri in their branding or marketing.

CIRD’s director Prak Sereyvath said Mondulkiri wild honey has a long history that is very well-known, which makes it easier to promote and sell.

“This honey has been famous for a long time. Everyone in Cambodia knows that if you’re talking about wild bees and honey, you’re referring to Mondulkiri province. It’s like if we’re talking about oranges, people would assume we refer to the ones from Battambang. Or if we’re talking about pepper in Cambodia, then people assume it’s from Kampot province,” he said.

According to Sereyvath, the GI registration application for Mondulkiri honey has been sent to the Ministry of Commerce pending its decision.

He said the GI registration purpose is to protect the name as intellectual property and use it to improve the livelihood of honey collectors while contributing to the preservation of natural resources.

“After registration, people who aren’t from Mondulkiri or people here who don’t make honey that meets our standards won’t be allowed to use the name Mondulkiri for their products.

“This will help put a stop to consumer fraud and the real Mondulkiri honey collectors will benefit from increased sales,” he said.

According to Kernh Bophat, president of the Wild Bee Conservation Association of Mondulkiri Province, each year the community collects 20 to 30 tonnes of wild honey from large bee hives from March to June.

His community has established 11 wild bee collection groups with 516 members throughout the province. The community’s honey is marketed in the capital, Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk provinces, and sold online.

“Through community mobilisation, people are turning their attention to forest conservation because they can earn money by selling wild honey to customers at an affordable price,” he said.

Srov Phary, a representative of the Mondulkiri Protected Area Community and a wild bee collector, said the collection of wild bees must be done correctly and those who wish to collect them must become members of their group.

“The reason we let them become members is so they learn the techniques of collecting bees in a sustainable way. It does not mean we always buy their honey, for that they have to also meet our production standards,” she said.

According to Phary, the purchase of honey from individual producers is done with proper inspections of their equipment and honey to make sure it is pure. She explained that sales of honey adulterated with other kinds of sugars like corn syrup continues to be an ongoing problem in the honey industry globally.

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