Since 2006, FarmLink Ltd, has been the main partner of the pepper farmers of Kampot. One of its co-founders, Jerome Benezech, appeared alongside Rick Stein on his celebrated BBC Far Eastern Odyssey programme, and it featured the re-emerging of Cambodia’s pepper trade, specifically down to FarmLink and the key farmers they had successfully got onboard from 2006. Until that time the pepper plantations had been decimated and abandoned during the dark days of the Khmer Rouge, and the 1 million pepper poles from the 1960s were down to a few thousand. FarmLink helped encourage and assist the pepper farmers of Kampot Province to produce their once famous ‘King of Pepper’ again.
Since then, the Lesieur brothers, Sebastien and Christophe have taken on Jerome’s mantle and established a close relationship over 140 farmers and their plantations who invest their trust in FarmLink to help produce and process their pepper. All the farms work to strict organic cultivation processes in order to maintain exemplary quality and consistency of the pepper production.
FarmLink’s core ethos is to protect and facilitate a sustainable way to maintain farms and traditional farming techniques. FarmLink also provides technical assistance and financial aid to the local farmers, and organises the collection of crops with complete batch and farmer traceability. They still maintain the traditional sun-drying and hand sorting of the peppercorns. In addition FarmLink has introduced the highest standards in cleaning, filtering, grading, and additional sorting of Kampot pepper. They have also developed sophisticated yet natural processes to fulfil strict EU food safety regulations.
In 2010 after the hard work of many people Kampot Pepper was awarded the prestigious and protected ‘Geographical Status’ indication for pepper produced in this very particular region and only that which fulfilled strict organic production conditions. It is one of only two food products in Cambodia awarded this prestigious status, the other being Palm sugar. FarmLink as a result introduced the KADODE Kampot Pepper brand in order to take the pepper to the wider world. KADODE is a perfect phrase which encapsulates the essence of what FarmLink and the Kampot farmers are all about, it is French / Khmer meaning ‘A gift from the earth!’
FarmLink are very proud to help the Kampot farmers make the best of their exceptional pepper, whilst being fully committed to the integrity of its production and the sustainability of the plantations.