The price of crocodile hatchlings in Siem Reap province has dropped drastically, and many local farmers are worrying about the future viability of crocodile farming.
Tim Bunseng, a crocodile farmer in Siem Reap with around 200 female hatchlings, said the price he can get has dropped from US$23 to $24 to $17 in less than a week.
Tim Bunseng speculated that the price will drop further because more hatchlings will be on the market soon, adding that he has only sold about 200 hatchlings this year, while last year he sold more than 2,000.
Tim Bunseng said that eggs are laid once a year and the eggs start hatching from April to August and that most of the hatchlings are exported to sell in Vietnam.
Chou Sedavuth, a crocodile farmer in Siem Reap and a buyer exporting crocodile hatchlings to Vietnam, said that the price is currently decreasing because of a drop in purchases.
“I am worried because the price continues falling as we compete to sell [hatchlings], causing Vietnamese buyers cut down their buying to lower the price,” he said.
Chou Sedavuth said that up until now, he had exported about 6,000 crocodile hatchlings to Vietnam.
A fisheries official, who has asked not to be named, said that the number of exporters buying up hatchlings has dropped significantly, in turn causing the price to drop.
Siem Reap, he said, has more crocodile farms than any other province, with approximately 300.
In order to stabilise the market the Ministry of Agriculture is urging farmers to raise crocodiles for skins rather than selling them as hatchlings to Vietnam, he said.
Crocodile farmers have reported falling prices since mid- to late-2011, when they blamed flooding for the decrease in the price of the animals.
To contact the reporter on this story: Sieam Bunthy at email@example.com