Perched between sea and mountains at Cambodia’s bucolic south-eastern coast, Kampot’s pepper plantations benefit from a unique soil and ideal climatic conditions for growing. But it is not only the rich minerals in the soil, the right amount of rainwater and sunshine that performs the magic. It is also the farmers’ traditional cultivation methods that play a crucial role.
Most of the farms started replanting about ten years ago. Nowadays some twenty tonnes are harvested every season on a total area of about ten hectares.
It remains a mere fraction of the 2,000 tonnes that were grown before the Khmer Rouge regime destroyed the fields, a fatal combination of plummeting world prices of pepper and nearly two decades of war and conflict saw Kampot pepper being wiped off the international market.
Today the farmers and traders are upbeat about the future. The once-forgotten king of pepper is fast on its way to becoming Cambodia’s first export product with Geographical Indication (GI) status such as Parmasan from Italy and Champagne from France.