Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Buffalo dreams Takeo-bred for former migrant

Buffalo dreams Takeo-bred for former migrant

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The buffalo farm owned by Yem Rom. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Buffalo dreams Takeo-bred for former migrant

Many Cambodians migrate to work abroad, with dreams of returning home with the capital to rent office space and start a business, open a restaurant or even launch a handicraft business. Indifferent to those options, when he returned from working in South Korea, Yem Rom began raising buffaloes.

The 27-year-old said he was the youngest of seven siblings. Born into a rural farming family in Sambor commune’s O’Pour village of Takeo province’s Traing district, he left his homeland to work in South Korea in 2016.

Rom said when he first arrived, he was employed repairing containers, but was able to find another job in a car repair workshop, with a higher salary. In 2018-2019, he sent his savings home to his parents, with instructions to buy 18 mixed gender buffaloes. By 2020, thanks to successful breeding – and a few additional purchases – he was the proud owner of a herd of 60.

“I have dreamt of raising buffalo for a long time, since long before I went to work in Korea. I give thanks for having the good fortune to achieve my dream. I am also pleased to able to play a part in conserving Khmer buffalo, as we don’t see so many of them around nowadays,” he added.

Rom said that he worked in the car garage in Korea for two years and ten months, until his contract expired. He returned to the Kingdom in April last year, to find that his herd had grown to almost 100 head of cattle, and that they needed more food than he could grow.

This led to the purchase of more than 4ha of land in his home village to grow grass to feed his livestock, but fenced off approximately 450sq m to build stables to raise his buffalo.

He has invested about $100,000, but says he earns more than he would if he used the land to grow rice, and added that the buffalo were a lot less labour intensive.

Before the Covid-19 crisis, one buffalo sold for around six million riel, he said, although the market price had dropped to around five million. He was unsure what had caused the decrease.

Generally, his customers bought buffalo to resell in Vietnam, or to butcher and sell in the market. His herd has grown to over 100 animals now, and his farm is becoming well known.

According to Rom, raising the large animals is not difficult. His 4ha of grassland is almost enough to feed the entire herd, although he sometimes buys straw from farmers who have harvested rice. He generally paid around 5,000 riel for a 15kg roll of straw.

In addition, he is able to sell dried buffalo dung for 15,000 to 20,000 riel per bag of about 25kg. Fresh dung was worth even more, he added.

Every morning, he feeds his cattle and then releases them to graze in the field all afternoon. When they return to their stables at night, he feeds them again to fatten them up so they fetch the best possible prices.

His herd is currently made up of 50 calves and more than 50 adults, and Rom estimates that he earns between $700 and $1,000 per month from his business. The herd produces around 30 calves a year and he sells about 20 of them. One and a half years ago, an 18 month old calf could fetch six or seven hundred dollars, but now, the market rate is closer to five hundred.

“In the future, I will expand my farm if possible. I think raising buffaloes gives me much better revenue than planting rice fields,” he said.

O’ Por village chief Bunry told The Post that with so many buffaloes in the village, some of the ponds and streams were getting dirty. He said the villagers haven’t started to complain yet though.

“During the farming season, Rom lets his buffaloes eat in the rice field after people have harvested their rice, and also has had two tractors for harvesting straw for his buffaloes to eat,” she said.

According to Bunry, the buffalo breeder is looking for a place to move his herd to, as he is aware that such a large group of buffalo can be disruptive. Somewhere with more open space would be ideal for the comfort of the animals, too, he added.

Regarding the use of buffaloes for farming, Sambor commune chief Chi Chim said farmers in his commune no longer used cattle. They use machinery, as it is faster and cheaper.

“Nobody uses animals to plow fields anymore, as they are too expensive. Walking tractors – sometimes called mechanical buffalos – are much faster, Aside from the O’Por village, I have not seen a buffalo in a while,” he added.


  • Ministry orders all schools, public and private, to close for SEA Games

    From April 20 to May 18, all public and private educational institutions will be closed to maintain order and support Cambodia's hosting of the 32nd SEA Games and 12th ASEAN Para Games, said a directive from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Cambodia will host the

  • Almost 9K tourists see equinox sunrise at Angkor Wat

    Nearly 9,000 visitors – including 2,226 international tourists – gathered at Angkor Wat on March 21 to view the spring equinox sunrise, according to a senior official of the Siem Reap provinical tourism department. Ngov Seng Kak, director of the department, said a total of 8,726 people visited Angkor Wat to

  • Angkor Beer strengthens national pride with golden new look and fresher taste

    Angkor Beer – the "Gold of Angkor" – has a new look, one that is more stylish and carries a premium appeal, as well as a fresher taste and smoother flavour, making it the perfect choice for any gathering. Angkor Beer recently launched its new design, one

  • PM urges end to ‘baseless’ international Ream base accusations

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urges an end to “baseless” foreign accusations surrounding the development of the Kingdom’s Ream Naval Base, as the US has consistently suggested that the base is being expanded to accommodate a Chinese military presence. Hun Sen renewed his calls while

  • Khmer ballet documentary debuts April 1

    A new documentary, The Perfect Motion, or Tep Hattha in Khmer, will premiere to the public on April 1. The documentary film follows two intertwined storylines: the creation of a show called Metamorphosis by the late Princess Norodom Buppha Devi (her very last production) and the

  • Water supply authority assures public shortages over early ‘24

    The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) asked for understanding from Phnom Penh residents in some communes where water pressure is weak. They assured residents that all supply issues will be resolved by early 2024, but have suggested that residents use water sparingly in the meantime.