As the rainy season approaches, Takeo aquaculture farmers have announced plans to scale up their crayfish farming activities by as much as a factor of 10.

Sap Sarun, whose operation is based in Traing district’s Sambour commune, has spent the past two years perfecting his techniques, with support from the Fisheries Administration (FiA) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

He explained how he began in 2021, and has since learnt to prepare land for his ponds, maintain adequate water quality and care for juvenile crayfish.

Sarun said that in his first year, he raised about 10,000 crayfish and was able to harvest about half a tonne. The following year, he harvested more than a tonne from the 30,000 crays he raised.

“This year, I am preparing to grow around 300,000 crayfish in six ponds, because I want to harvest many tonnes,” he told The Post.

Sap Sarun, who is also president of the Takeo Freshwater Crayfish Traders Association, said the baby crayfish he raised were bought from hatcheries in Takeo province’s Angkor Borei district.

Another crayfish farmer, 28-year-old Sem Savary, told The Post that he also started a small-scale aquaculture farm in 2021, with the assistance of the provincial agriculture department.

He was initially aiming to raise only fish, but the department’s officials advised him to consider raising crayfish as well.

He said he had turned 1.3ha of land into an aquaculture operation, and has followed the FiA’s instructions.

He explained that he began with a donation of 10,000 baby crayfish from the FiA, and later invested his own capital into purchasing more. Last year, he bought about 17,000 baby crayfish to raise, and now plans to extend that figure to over 20,000 by year’s end. He also raises coconuts and geese.

Thai Somony, director of the FiA’s Aquaculture Department, said that during the 2021 pilot phase, just over 10 farmers opted to participate in the scheme, which converts rice-focused farming practices into diversified aquaculture.

“It was a hard decision, but a wise one. It required a lot of investment, a suitable size of land and a very high level of commitment,” he added.

According to Sarun, there is no shortage of demand for crayfish raised in Takeo.

“All of the stock that farmers can raise will sell,” he said.

According to the FiA, Chinese officials are inspecting crayfish aquaculture farms to begin the process of approving them as suitable for export to China.

Takeo governor Ouch Phea noted in March that relevant officials are studying the possibility of registering Takeo freshwater crayfish as a geographical indication (GI)product.