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Business

Kampot thrives on spice of life and one man's dream

Hironobu Kurata first came to Cambodia in 1992 as a volunteer in a United Nations peacekeeping mission. After forming his own aid group in Japan, he returned to help revitalize the traditional pepper industry. (Photo by Ron Gluckman)

KAMPOT, Cambodia -- Pepper has been called the king of spice, and for ages, Cambodia cultivated a regal peppercorn crop which ranked among the world's finest. Devastated under the horror years of the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s, in recent years the local pepper industry has rebounded and is now earning attention from chefs and gourmets far beyond Asia.

Much of the credit for this remarkable resurgence goes to a remarkable entrepreneur and "pepper sparkplug" from Japan, Hironobu Kurata.

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