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No croc skin exports in 2010

Despite all efforts, Cambodia’s skins fail to meet industry standards, officials say

CROCODILE skins will not be exported from Cambodia in 2010 despite a 13-year effort to encourage commercial farming, a representative from the General Department of Fisheries Administration (GDFA) has said.

Nao Thuok, general director of GDFA, announced on Sunday that Cambodia still cannot export crocodile skins into international markets because the country’s farms have not been able to fulfill industry standards.

“We are looking for companies which are capable of investing in large-scale [operations] in order to create opportunities to export crocodile skin into international markets,” he said.

Cambodia has been trying to encourage the trade of crocodile skin since 1997 by training farmers with skills and methods needed to raise crocodiles. But so far the effort has seen negligible results.

To improve the quality of skin for export, animals must be raised in individual pens in order to prevent damage .

According to small-scale farmers, who currently sell baby crocodiles to foreign markets for meat, millions of dollars are needed to set up such enterprises.
Kaing Sarin, owner of a 3,000-crocodile farm in Prek Kampeus commune, Kandal Steung district, Kandal province, said that raising crocodiles for skin takes a very long time.

“At present, we only breed crocodile hatchlings for sale because we need the money to buy food to supply our crocodiles,” he said Monday.

However, Nao Thuok said his department did not support the export of young crocodiles to Vietnam and China, as farmers earn just US$15 to $17 per animal.

A standard crocodile skin can be sold for $200 on the international market.

According to the GDFA, the crocodile skin business could earn Cambodia $30 million per year.

“We aim to encourage the export of crocodile skin because the trade can generate high income to help support our national economy,” said Nao Thuok.

The department added that it wants to create one or two large scale commercial crocodile farms.

According to a report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, last year Cambodia’s 600 crocodile farms bred a total of 185,000 crocodile hatchlings.

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