CROCODILE hatchlings are fetching higher prices in 2010 compared to previous years because of growing international demand for the reptiles’ meat, farmers in the sector said Monday.
“[Crocodile farmers] are happier this year because we can sell our products at much higher prices,” said Kaing Sarin, owner of a 2-hectare crocodile farm in Kandal province’s Kandal Stung district.
Hatchlings were being snapped up for eventual resale in China, he said. “This year many Vietnamese brokers have purchased Cambodian crocodile hatchlings to raise in their own country and sell in China, where they like to eat crocodile meat.”
Domestic supplies of young crocodiles had also decreased as many farmers left the business due to low prices in previous years, pushing up recent prices, he said.
“I hatched 12,000 new babies this year, and they will sell for $22 per head, which is $7 more than last year,” said Kaing Sarin, who originally invested $600,000 to purchase his farm and stock of 3,000 breeding crocodiles.
Smaller vendors said Monday that prices had improved but added they had too few hatchlings to take advantage of the potential for better profits.
“This year is a strong one for selling crocodile hatchlings, but we don’t have that much stock,” said Khoeu Chhin, who has raised crocodiles on a half-hectare farm in Siem Reap since 1997.
The farm saw a modest jump in hatchlings this year, from 2,500 to 3,000, Khoeu Chhin said, adding he expected annual income from his farm to reach $60,000-$65,000, up from $20,000 to $25,000 last year.
Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture’s Fisheries Administration were unavailable for comment on Monday.
Cambodia’s 600 crocodile farms bred a total of 185,000 of the reptiles last year, according to a ministry report.