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Monday, December 14, 2009

FBD: Cambodia's pepper industry in need of big changes

By staff writer

December 14 2009 - If Cambodia’s currently small black pepper industry is to become a global player, the industry needs major changes: A proper grading system, state-of-the-art processing plants and real quality control are all good starts. This then should enable the industry to make exports to the EU and Japan quite soon.

Pepper from Kampot, a province in Southern Cambodia, will get a boost next year when it receives a geographic indicator shared by products such as Champagne. The issues of quality and sustainability will be addressed next. In addition, raw materials will need to meet buyer specifications; after that, customer satisfaction needs to be achieved.

The Kingdom’s pepper, though centred in Kampong Cham province, must still be shipped to Vietnam for processing due to the fact that there are no domestic processing facilities in Cambodia other than Kampot.

Approximately 1,000 to 2,000 tonnes of pepper is produced annually in Cambodia. This is a tiny fraction of the total global production of some 281,974 tonnes, as measured by the International Pepper Community (IPC).

As of now, Cambodia’s pepper industry is stuck in a mostly ad hoc system. Furthermore, the government, despite pleas from major producers of pepper worldwide, has chosen not to join the IPC.

In contrast to Cambodia, Vietnam’s pepper industry has benefited greatly from IPC membership. In fact, Vietnam is now the world’s largest exporter of pepper, sending abroad around 120,000 tonnes in just the first 10 months of this year (2009).

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