Geographical indication status is being sought for Siem Reap prahok fish paste after the Industry Ministry granted approval for a national standard.
Siem Reap prahok fish paste, made from fermented fish, is among many products in Cambodia that the government is working to get GI status. Currently, only pepper in Kampot province and palm sugar in Kampong Speu province have so far been certified.
The push for Siem Reap prahoc fish paste to get GI status came soon after the Association of Prahok Fish Paste in Siem Reap province’s Chong Kneas village was established with 10 members drawn from prahok producers.
Kao Sochivy, deputy director-general of the fisheries department at the Agriculture Ministry, said: “We hope we will get GI status soon because now we have obtained a certificate from the ministry to make the prahok fish paste in Siem Reap that conforms with the national standard.”
“We want our prahok fish paste to have geographical indication status so that it can be recognised in international markets,” Mr Sochivy said.
He added that the GI status would also help prevent the proliferation of fake Siem Reap prahok fish paste.
“Because of the demand for prahok fish paste in markets such as in Thailand and the United States, we are worried about fake products. So we are seeking an international standard through the GI status to protect our products,” Mr Sochivy said.
A kilo of Siem Reap prahoc fish paste costs $10 in markets, while other prahok fish paste costs about $6, according to the association.
Currently, the association is backed by funds from the Asian Development Bank to run the operation.
Association members have produced 1.5 tonnes of prahok for local markets this year.
Soeng Sophary, spokeswoman at the Ministry of Commerce, said the process of getting GI status for Siem Reap prahok fish paste was under way but she was not sure of the time frame.
“We hope the process to get GI status for prahok fish paste will be finalised soon. We understand the benefits of it for prahok producers and the authenticity of the product. Having a GI status, would enhance its sales in both local and international markets,” Ms Sophary said.
However, she said, due to budgetary constraints the government was working to only get GI status for priority products.
“Human resources is another main problem slowing the process,” said Ms Sophary.
The ministry said oranges from Battambang province, Phnom Srok silk from Banteay Meanchey province, durians from Kampot province, grapefruit from Kratie province and milled rice from Svay Rieng province were also suitable candidates for GI status.