The Kampot Pepper Promotion Association has sold just 50 tonnes of the coveted commodity, an 80 percent drop compared to last year.
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The dip in sales follows a decrease in production due to unfavorable weather conditions throughout the year, the association reported.
Total pepper production decreased by about 30 tonnes, the association said, amounting to just 70 tonnes in 2018. This has been explained as the result of heavy downpours during the beginning of the growing season.
Only about 50 tonnes of the crop were sold to export companies, 80 tonnes less than in 2017, said Ngoun Lay, president of the Kampot Pepper Promotion Association, who explained that the market has shrank.
“The market is narrower this year, which has caused exports of Kampot pepper to drop,” Mr Lay said, adding that the association is exploring new markets to ship the commodity.
The main markets for Kampot pepper are the European Union and the United States, followed by Japan, South Korea and China.
Ngin Sina, a pepper farmer that works with the pepper association, said it was a disappointing year as, despite having larger yields than usual, she was unable to sell much to the association.
“I don’t know much about the market. What the association told me is that the export market is very limited, so they can only buy a small amount from each farmer,” Ms Sina, who this year produced about 100 kilograms of pepper, said.
She resorted to sell to local markets, where her pepper fetches a lower price that what the association offers.
“I didn’t have a choice: the association bought very little from me, so I was forced to sell to local markets for a much lower price,” Ms Sina lamented.
“If this situation continues, I will have to consider switching to another crop.”
One ton of Kampot black pepper is now valued at $15,000, while red pepper and white pepper cost $25,000 and $28,000 per ton, respectively.
Kampot pepper enjoys Geographic Indicator (GI) status in the EU.
About 440 farmers, working a combined 240 hectares, are members of Kampot Pepper Promotion Association. The association works with 29 export companies.