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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Crococdile farms expecting soaring prices

Crococdile farms expecting soaring prices

High demand and dwindling supplies mean baby croc prices are set to spike, industry says

THE price of baby crocodiles is set to rise as many farmers have sold their breeding females after many years of falling prices, crocodile farmers said Tuesday.

"Now, a crocodile baby costs US$14 ... $2 more than last year," said Khoeu Chhin, who has been breeding crocodiles since 1987 .

According to Khoeu Chhin, Vietnamese have been on a buying spree of baby crocodiles, but many farms had already sold many of their breeding females, leaving them unable to meet a subsequent rise in demand due to a lack of breeding capacity.

Khoeu Chhin says his farm makes between $20,000 and $30,000 per year, but that this year should be an especially good year as a result of high demand and shrinking supply elsewhere in Cambodia.

Baby crocodile prices had been dropping for nearly a decade, but even in 2003, prices could be as high as $40 for a newborn.

Prices continued to drop, falling as low as $12 in 2008. This year's price jump could be the first sign of the industry's recovery, sources told the Post.

Kaing Sarin, who breeds crocodiles in Kandal province, said the price increase can be attributed to crocodile farmers giving up on the industry, but his farm had done the opposite, increasing the number of baby crocodiles from 7,000 to 10,000 this year.

This year baby

crocodile prices will be higher than last year.

Sam Nuov, deputy director general of the Fisheries Administration, gave creedence to the crocodile farmers' optimism.

"Last year, some farmers felt downhearted because of cheap prices so they sold their breeding females or closed their farms.

"As a result, this year baby crocodile prices will be higher than last year," said Sam Nuov.

Heng Sovannara, the chief of the crocodile development division of the Fisheries Administration, said that Cambodia had more than 1,000 crocodile farms in 2003, but since then many farms had closed.

Since most of Cambodia's crocodile farms are unlicensed, Heng Sovannara said gathering accurate statistics about the industry had proven to be difficult in the past.

"If farmers don't register, we cannot calculate the real figures in regards to the numbers of crocodile farms or the numbers of crocodiles exported from Cambodia each year," he said.

But according to estimates in the 2008 annual report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the number of farm-raised crocodiles in Cambodia increased from 128,945 in 2007 to 156,500 a year later.

Vietnamese crocodile buyers usually take the young animals across the border where they are then raised on farms for their skins, which are used to manufacture clothes and fashion accessories.

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