MINISTER of Agriculture Chan Sarun called on Cambodian farmers to increase the size of their cows at a weekend cattle exhibition held in Kandal province, in order to increase domestic beef production.
Encouraging farmers to change their habits to fatten up cattle, he said there was a risk Cambodian cows would become smaller and smaller, until they resembled dogs.
“In order to improve productivity of cattle farming in the Kingdom, it is essential for us to change to new cows. We would receive bigger animals that would produce more meat for market demand,” he said.
The ministry supports further use of imported breeds such as Brahman and the locally-bred Kampeng Sen cow, according to Chan Sarun, but farmers have voiced concerns over the price of such animals.
According to the ministry, the two breeds are large animals that can be used as labour as well as for meat production. They can potential weigh between 700 to 1,500 kilograms, which is two or three times the weight of Cambodia’s most popular breed.
“It is easy to raise such cows because they do not mind what foods they eat, and are resistant to Cambodian weather,” Chan Sarun said.
There are some 3.4 million cows in the Kingdom, of which 70 percent are used for farming, while the remainder are set aside to meet market demand for beef, he said.
The Ministry also supports farmers forming cattle-raising associations to promote a switch to larger breeds.
Srey Chanthou, president of Cambodia’s Brahman Breeding Association, said the association had organised several cattle exhibitions to educate farmers in methods of raising new animals and the benefits of different breeds.
The association displayed five breeds of cattle at Saturday’s exhibition, including Angus, Brangus, Wagyu, and Lowline imports from Australia and New Zealand, as well as the Brahman – which was originally bred in India.
The cows cost between US$800 and $25,000 for one cow, depending on the quality level of the animal. “We plan to lower prices in the coming years, as the association is able to breed more animals on its own,” he said.
But domestic farmers have raised concened over the expense of new breeds.
Yok Sat, a farmer in Chet Burei district in Kratie province, said he would like to raise the cows promoted by the association, but could not afford the price tag. “We farmers want to raise animals that can produce the most economic benefits, because our current revenues from farming are limited,” he said.