Kampot Province, located in southwest Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand, has long been renowned for the quality of its pepper. Cambodian exports of pepper to China are said to date back more than 1,500 years. The golden age of pepper production, was during the French colonial period (1863 to 1953) when European chefs associated the name Kampot with the ﬁnest high-quality pepper.
Pepper farming almost vanished during the Khmer Rouge period but was rehabilitated after liberation from the Pol Pot regime in 1979. With Cambodia’s civil war ending in 1998, production started to pick up in 2006. Pepper from Kampot is now undergoing a major revival in international markets, where it is once again being recognised for its aroma, taste and quality.
Since early 2016, the name “Kampot Pepper” has enjoyed "protected geographic indication" status with the European Union. The Kampot Pepper Promotion Association requires that pepper marketed under Kampot's name must be grown in delimited geographical areas of ﬁve of the province’s districts (Chhuk, Dang Tong, Kampong Trach, Krong Kampot and Toeuk Chhou) or the two districts of neighbouring Kep Province which used to be part of Kampot (Damnak Chang Aeur and Krong Kep). “Kampot Pepper” must also comply with production methods covering crop manage-ment as well as harvest and post-harvest methods.
Pepper produced under the protected geographic indication status is certiﬁed by Ecocert SA, a French organic agricultural certiﬁcation body operating in more than 130 countries.
The Japanese-owned Hama Farm in Chhuk District has a pepper plantation area of 1,000 hectares, making it the largest pepper farm in Kampot Province. With 200,000 poles covering 130 hect-ares under the ﬁrst phase of its development from 2014 to 2017, Hama farm has the most pepper vines in the province. With 140 tons of pepper expected from the ﬁrst harvest in 2018, Hama Farm is poised to emerge as Kampot’s biggest pepper producer.