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

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Cambodia resumes issuance of tourist visas

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has announced the resumption of its tourist visa and visa exemption programme after a long hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a letter dated October 20 and addressed to foreign embassies and consulates, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn

  • S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre. The

  • Health ministry issues SOP for travellers

    The Ministry of Health released their official Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) on October 20 for all travellers to Cambodia, with the specific instructions varying according to whether the traveller is fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated or unvaccinated. The SOP document is essentially identical to the updated quarantine