took us (Basti, Xenia and myself)
|Xenia in the pepper plantation|
out to visit the Pepper farms that he works with. They are about an hour east of Kampong Cham in a place called Dar in Mamot Province - I just looked at the map and it is right on the border to Vietnam.
Klaus works with the Pepper Co-orperative that has been set up over there - the farmers have joined together so that they can get better value for their pepper.
I don't think I had ever seen a pepper plant before and had always presumed it was a bush but they grow like vines - they plant 3 around a post which stands 4.5m tall. For the first 2 years they have to be covered and so they make a cage of palm leaves around and above the plants to protect them.
You can start harvesting after 2 years and the plant will provide 60% of it's yield but after 3 years you can get 100% yield - the plants have a lifespan of about 20 years.
Apparently Cambodia produces 2% of the worlds pepper - most people only know Kampot pepper which is a southern province here in Cambodia however in Mamot they have a higher yield of pepper than Kampot and of course it is better quality - well Klaus would say that!!
|These are 5 year old plants|
|You can see here the poles they grow up around|
|This is showing the cage they create around young pepper plants to protect them - made from palm leaves|
|Inside the cage with plants that were planted this year|
|The plants in the background are 2 years old|
|One of the pickers work stations|
|The cage also doubles up as a growing frame for other veggies|
|Here is some pepper the farmer was drying for his own use|
|In the front is Cassava growing but behind is all pepper - you can see the shelters protecting the young crops|
|Cassava plants - you can see the soil here is very red, so very fertile for growing crops|