Kampot pepper, which received geographical indication (GI) certification from the European Union last year, expects 80 tonnes to go on the export market this year, thanks to demand and increased production.
Nguon Lay, president of the Kampot Pepper Promotion Association, said that by the first eight months of this year, about 45 tonnes of Kampot pepper had been exported, mainly to the EU, the United States and Japan.
About 100 tonnes had been produced, but only 80 tonnes qualified for export.
“Although by the first eight months, we exported only 45 tonnes, we firmly hope that the remaining 30 tonnes will go on the export market by the end of this year,” he said.
According the association, 30 percent of Kampot pepper production is for sale to tourists domestically and 70 percent is for export.
The land cultivation of Kampot pepper has increased since 2009, when the association was formed, from 10 hectares in 2009 with 100 pepper producers to 210 hectares in 2017 with 387 producers as association members.
Mr Lay said GI certification had contributed to the increase in the amount of land under cultivation and the number of association members.
The association was studying applications for membership from pepper growers cultivating another 50 to 60 hectares of land.
However, fake products labelled as Kampot pepper were the main challenge to Kampot pepper’s reputation.
“We have found a case of 8 tonnes of fake products with certificate of origin labels from the Kampot Pepper Association in France. We told the relevant ministries to seek help,” Mr Lay said.
During a field trip last week by an EU delegation to the Kampot Pepper Promotion Association, EU Ambassador George Edgar said the European Union was proud to work with the government to help pepper growers in the province get GI certification, in order for their pepper to fetch higher prices and also to be exported to more markets.
It was important to deal with the problem of wrongly labelled products, said Mr Edgar.
According to Agriculture Ministry, Cambodia produced about 12,000 tonnes of black pepper last year, mostly from the east of the country.
However, pepper from those areas suffered from low prices internationally due to lack of quality certification.
Asked if the EU would assist pepper growers in other areas of the country to get GI certification, Mr Edgar said the EU did not at the moment have any project to help agricultural products.
However there had been discussions about palm sugar from Kampong Speu province and sea salt from Kampot province, and possibly a type of fragrant rice.
Black pepper is priced at $15,000 per tonne, while red pepper and white pepper are priced $25,000 and $28,000 respectively.