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Kep salt chases GI status

Sum Manet / Khmer Times Share:
Worker piles salt sacks at a shop. KT/Mai Vireak

Salt from Kep province may attain geographical indication (GI) status in the near future, after producer associations appealed to the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) to consider initiating the process of applying for the coveted recognition.

Bun Baraing, the co-executive director of the Kampot and Kep Salt Association, said his organisation had recently submitted a proposal to the MoC to start the process of applying for GI status for salt produced in Kep province.

“We believe the product has great quality and is good for health. It should be recognised accordingly.

“So far we haven’t received any response from the MoC, but I think they are working on it now,” he said.

According to a study conducted by the salt association, the kingdom consumes about 100,000 tonnes of salt every year.

In Kampot and Kep, about 700 farmers produce salt on 4,700 hectares of land.

However, demand for locally grown salt is generally lower than supply due to high levels of imports.

“We consume about 100,000 tonnes of salt per year. However, if just 20,000 tonnes of cheaper salt is imported, it will affect local production and force us to store the surplus,” Mr Baraing said.

“Getting GI status will help promote our product and increase sales,” he added.

A product name identified as a geographical indication by the EU is one that is closely linked to a specific production area.

On February 18, Kampot pepper became the first Cambodian product to receive GI certification from the EU. This means that any product sold in EU countries calling itself “Kampot pepper” must come from a designated region that includes Kampot and neighbouring Kep province.

Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak said early this year that the ministry was reviewing the possibility of applying for GI status for salt farmed in Kep.

“Salt is a partner of pepper. Our vision is to help Kep province with its GI products. We are studying Kep salt because many countries are interested in this product,” he said.

“If the plan for GI status for Kep salt is successful, the province will be more attractive to investors and tourists and will help create more job opportunities and income for the people.”

Obtaining GI status for Kampot pepper took approximately five years at a cost of about $1 million, according to a representative from the MoC.

Four other Cambodian products – Kampot salt, Phnom Srok silk of Banteay Meanchey province, fragrant milled rice from Battambang province and Kampot durian – are now seeking GI status with the EU.

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