Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Art meets agriculture at Bale & Paddy Festival



Art meets agriculture at Bale & Paddy Festival

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A straw crocodile on display before the opening of the Bale and Paddy Festival. Photo supplied

Art meets agriculture at Bale & Paddy Festival

Now in its third year, the festival has moved from Banteay Meanchey to just outside Siem Reap. Designed to promote agro-tourism and good farming techniques, it’s as quirky as ever.

A wonderfully weird festival kicks off in Siem Reap Province this weekend. Set with the backdrop of the Cambodian countryside, the Bale & Paddy Art Festival is a peculiar, large-scale exhibition of straw creations and a celebration of agriculture.

The aim of the festival is to promote agro-tourism in areas of Cambodia that are off the beaten path for the average tourist.

Now in its third year, the festival is part of the “Rice, Life & Culture” project under the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and aims to spread the word about methods to prevent flooding, adapt to climate change and promote tourism opportunities in rural areas.

After being held in rural Banteay Meanchey province for the past two years, the festival has moved closer to central Siem Reap.

“By moving to Siem Reap, we wanted the festival to be more international and sustainable,” Chiho Lee, a KOTRA representative, said.

Cambodia’s farming industry suffers from environmental fluctuations and conditions where it is often either too wet to grow vegetables or too dry to grow rice. The festival aims to educate the public about more sustainable farming techniques, such as the use of straw bales. Minnesota native Joel Karsten, who provided training alongside KOTRA to farmers in May in preparation for the festival, is one champion of the technique.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The grounds of the festival before this weekend’s event. Photo supplied

“Straw-bale farming is definitely an option for something to do with all the rice straw they have here. Every year in Cambodia, farmers just burn their straw bale, but we can use it to grow,” he told The Post in May last year.

One participating organisation at the festival is Ockenden Cambodia, which supports rural self-reliance in Cambodia. “We try to show farmers that there are many different uses for straw bales to grow all kind of vegetables,” said Nhov Nharn, the organisation’s managing director. “Even floating gardens can be made with straw bales.”

At the festival, Ockenden will be demonstrating the process of rice production to visitors, and will be displaying new techniques that involve using much less rice seed than traditional cultivation.

Among the straw art concoctions will be a large reproduction of a character from the popular Angry Birds video game/movie and gigantic logo lettering created with the help of farmers, local agricultural NGOs and student volunteers.

Famous Korean artist Choi Ok-Yeung has also built wooden sculptures, while bale gardening and other horticultural designs will be on display as well.

The festival runs from Friday to Sunday. A free shuttle bus has been arranged from Siem Reap town, running from the old market to the festival.

Contact KOTRA for more details at [email protected] or 011 852 017 / 023 999 099

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a

  • Cambodia ready to exit LDC status

    Cambodia is well-prepared to minimise economic risks when it graduates from its Least Developed Countries status, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce on May 7. Four LDCs – Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal – met at a virtual workshop last week to explore potential

  • Nine US franchises eye Cambodia debut

    Nine famous US franchising companies are looking for business opportunities and expansion into Cambodia to build a footstep for a strong foundation in Southeast Asia. The US embassy in Phnom Penh, in partnership with the US Foreign Commercial Service and with support from the American

  • Jab drive announced for two more Phnom Penh districts

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration on May 15 announced a first-dose novel-coronavirus vaccination campaign for Boeung Keng Kang and Sen Sok districts from May 18-31, and a follow-up second-shot drive from June 1-15. Twenty vaccination sites have been set up in a combined 13 communes across both