Pepper from Kampot province is well on the way to becoming the first Cambodian product to get an origin-specific label, as with Parma ham from Italy or champagne from France, that attests to its quality and uniqueness.
A government study has found that among Cambodian products, it comes the closest to fulfilling the criteria required for a geographical indications designation.
“Kampot pepper meets almost all the requirements needed to become a GI,” Van Roth San, intellectual property director at the Commerce Ministry, said Monday.
The next step in the process will involve a geographical indications law to ensure exclusive rights to the Kampot pepper name, and then submitting a requirement application to an international committee for approval, he said.
According to Van Roth San, meeting GI standards would be a huge boost to the pepper industry—potentially leading to a 40-percent rise in value. Pepper currently sells for $4 per kg at markets.
The designation could also signal an increase in the number of pepper farmers, now estimated at about 150, said Jerome Benezech, CEO of the Farm Link association based in Kampot province.
Benezech believes that the pepper industry, which could generate up to $1 million in sales at present, has promising growth potential.
The Commerce Ministry had announced a list of six products with GI potential including: Battambang rice, Banteay Meanchey silk, Kompong Speu palm sugar, Siem Reap fish paste and Cardamom spice from Pursat province.
Further study will be done on palm sugar and silk for possible GI designation, Van Roth San said, but pepper has been set as priority.
“This is a great opportunity for pepper farmers in Kampot,” Benezech said. “Once we define exactly what it is that makes Kampot pepper a GI, then any farmer who makes it according to the rules can market it with the GI brand.”
There still is some way to go to make this happen, he said, “but the conditions are in place.”