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

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures