South Korean-owned Welt Bio Co Ltd.’s $40-million pepper plantation in Mondulkiri province is expected to see its first harvest next year from what it claims to be the largest pepper farm in the world.
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“About 200 hectares of the 350-hectare cultivated land have been planted with pepper,” said Song Kheang, director of Mondulkiri’s provincial agriculture department, yesterday.
“A team from the provincial agriculture department had just visited the plantation and according to our assessment they could start harvesting next year,” he added.
According to Hean Vanhan, director-general of the general directorate of agriculture at the Ministry of Agriculture, Welt Bio Co plants pepper using seeds from Cambodia and Malaysia.
“If the company is successful in planting pepper on the total 1,000 hectares of land, it will be the largest pepper plantation in the world,” said Mr Vanhan.
According to Kim Yuong Jun, CEO of Welt Bio Co, pepper from its Mondulkiri plantation would be exported around the globe.
Pepper is planted in 19 provinces across the country and Tbong Khmom province, located in the east of the country, contributes to about 75 percent of total production.
Due to lack of pepper processing factories, most of Cambodia’s black pepper is exported to Vietnam, the world’s biggest pepper producing country.
Pepper growers are now urging the government to set up processing factories in the country, so that they can bypass the Vietnamese middlemen, and export their products directly overseas.
“The government should encourage investors to put funds into pepper processing plants so that we wean ourselves away from the Vietnamese traders,” Chan Sophal, a pepper farm owner in Preah Vihear province, told Khmer Times recently.
Last year, Cambodia’s pepper production was 11,800 tonnes and is predicted to increase by 70 percent, to 20,000 tonnes by the end of 2017, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.