Cambodian rats selling for $1.50 each across border from Kandal as inflation eats away at Vietnamese spending power
Cambodian children play with dead rats, which are caught for their meat, in Kandal province.
FARMERS in Kandal province have seen skyrocketing profits from exports of rat meat to neighbouring Vietnam, where cheap meat is in rising demand, Kandal province's governor told the Post.
Exports have reached 10 tonnes per month, Governor Ly Marong said, with profits rising to as much as US$15,000 per month in Kandal's Kho Thom district.
"In addition to exports, local people are buying rat meat more than ever before," he said. "Grilled rat meat, or spicy, fried meat with basil, is delicious."
Live rats sell for about 6,000 to 6,500 riels per kilogram in Vietnam's Long Bin market, across the border from Kandal province, but traders purchase rats from Cambodian farmers for about 4,500 to 5,000 riels per kilogram.
The governor said that because heavy rains flood forest areas, rats swarm to nearby farms. High inflation and the rising cost of other meats - as high as 20 percent in recent months - have led farmers to harvest the rats for their own use and for export.
"Rats used to be trapped and killed, but high market values make them a good product for export to Vietnam," Ly Marong said.
Sann Nguon Sreng, a villager in Chroy Takeo commune in Kandal province, said he can catch as many as six kilograms of rats each day. He sells some of them to Vietnamese traders and keeps the rest for his family.
He earns as much as 20,000 riels per day as the price of rat meat has nearly doubled in recent months.
"I and my villagers are very happy because we can increase our income by hunting rats," Sann Nguon Sreng said.
Keo Soeung, who lives in Kandal province's Deum Por village, said he buys more than 500 kilograms of rats per day from local farmers and exports as many as three tonnes each week across the border in Vietnam.
"I get profits of more than three million riels (US$750) per week from my exports," said Keo Soeung, who sells them at Vietnamese market prices.
He said he sells the bulk of his rat meat to a Vietnamese crocodile farmer, but whatever is left he takes to Long Bin market.