Cambodia’s peppercorn output this year could rise by around one-tenth over 2021, industry insiders have reported, as the harvest season reaches more than 90 per cent completion.
Each year, the fruit of the Piper nigrum, a flowering vine considered to be native to the southwestern Indian coast, is typically harvested exclusively by hand between January and June, and generally wraps up when the southwest monsoon brings the rainy season from mid-May.
Among the varieties cultivated in the Kingdom, Kampot pepper is the most highly-prized, grown in the namesake coastal province, and remains the sole cultivar protected under national geographical indication (GI).
Unseasonal heavy rains in February, March and April have pushed up yields of the GI-tagged peppercorn by about 10 per cent this year, compared to 2021, and greatly cut down on fuel costs for irrigation, Kampot Pepper Promotion Association (KPPA) president Nguon Lay told The Post on June 27.
With virtually all pepper production from small- and medium-sized vineyards reserved by traders, and based on purchasing contracts struck by KPPA members, Lay predicts that exports in 2022 will top last year’s 114 tonnes, out of the 125 tonnes harvested.
Lay defined small-sized vineyards as those with 100-1,500 vines, and medium-sized as those with 1,500-3,000. Large-sized vineyards contain more than 3,000. On average, about 2,500 vines can be grown per hectare, he said.
The per-kilogramme prices for Kampot pepper have remained the same for “six or seven years”, at $15 for black, $25 for red and $28 for white, he said, explaining that the peppercorn turns red when left on the vine for another 25-60 days after ripening.
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Author: Hin Pisei
Source: The Phnom Penh Post
Publication date: 27 June 2022