Dr Hay Ly Eang: Innovation at the service of rural development in Cambodia
While in exile in France, Dr. Hay Ly Eng, pharmacist and phytotherapist, invented in the 1980s Tabastop, the first tablet to put under the tongue to quit smoking, and Phytorel, an innovative preparation for era based on nutritherapy, combining sugar-free fruit powders with medicinal plants. Thirty years later, Confirel, the flagship company in the agro-organic sector that he created in Cambodia, has already developed around thirty new products derived from palm sugar from Kampong Speu and Kampot, which it commercializes on the world market. Meeting with an entrepreneur who puts his creativity at the service of rural development in the kingdom.
Do you know Koh Sotin pickle? No doubt not. However, Dr. Hay Ly Eang places this condiment in a very good place in the pantheon of delicacies of the Kingdom, where Kampot pepper, red rice from Battambang and palm sugar from Kampong Speu are among others. “In the past, the people of Koh Sotin knew how to prepare this pickle to make it an extraordinary and famous condiment throughout the country. But since then, nothing has been done to ensure that this authentic product from the Khmer terroirs finds the audience of gourmets it deserves, here and all over the world. And this is unfortunately the fate of many of the riches offered to us by our marvelous Cambodian land,” says Dr. Hay indignantly.
However, with Confirel, which he launched fifteen years ago, the man who is also the founder of the pharmaceutical laboratory PPM, number one in Cambodia, has shown that the alliance of traditional know-how and innovation allows Cambodian products to rub shoulders with the best of world gastronomy on the finest tables and in the best grocery stores.
Constantly creating new things
We started with palm sugar. Fifteen years ago, this traditional sugar made by farmers was only sold in local markets. The climbers also extracted from palm sap a wine of poor sanitary quality which the tourist guides advised against for tourists,” recalls Dr Hay. “With the help of CIRAD in France, we very quickly managed to produce organic palm sugar of exceptional quality, which won an award at the Natexpo trade fair in Paris in 2005. This success was the basis for all our subsequent developments” .
With palm sugar and other palm sap derivatives - vinegars, wines and spirits, confectionery, Confirel produces and markets Kampot pepper that it grows on its organic plantations. Here again, the company is not content to take advantage of this grain, considered one of the best peppers in the world. Following this idea that we must constantly create new products to meet consumer demand to enhance the value of the raw product in all its forms, Confirel has, for example, developed a range of infusions with Kampot pepper inflorescences with well-being virtues. be recognized and patented in France and in several countries.
“Many Cambodians consider that nothing produced by our country is good and extol everything that comes from abroad. It's sad and it's wrong! , gets annoyed Dr. Hay. “What we are doing with Confirel proves the opposite. But it works because we are demanding and we fight together with all the members of the Kampong Speu sugar and Kampot pepper sectors so that our products, which we have obtained, with the support of the AFD, benefit from of a PGI, are irreproachable" .
For him, it is up to the Cambodians themselves to defend their products and at the same time defend their jobs and their economy, being uncompromising with those who undermine the riches of the land by cheating with quality. As it is up to the country's producers to stay at the forefront of innovation to meet the global demand for authentic, healthy local products that respect the environment and people.