Minister of Agriculture Veng Sakhon has urged the Cambodia Amazing Aquaculture Technological Co Ltd (CAAT) to expand crayfish farming from 25ha to 100ha as there is much potential for export to international markets.

Sakhon’s comment came during a visit to an Australian red-claw crayfish farm operated by CAAT in Thnal Keng village, Trapaing Prasat commune, Trapaing Prasat district, Oddar Meanchey province on Sunday.

The minister told The Post on Monday that crayfish – also known by its scientific name 'Cherax quadricarinatus – is easy to feed and has a high potential for investment and export.

“There will be a large number of markets. China exports billions of dollars worth of crayfish to the US and Europe each year.

“This is the main reason why I want to inspire Cambodians to raise this kind of crayfish because it is easy to feed and in great demand,” he said.

Crayfish is easy-to-raise in rice fields and ponds and does not die easily and can be moved like crabs. Crayfish can be raised with just soya-bean, potato, corn, and paddy ground together, Sakhon said.

However, he said raising crayfish also has some challenges, especially a lack of irrigation. “If there is adequate irrigation, this kind of crayfish farming will grow fast,” Sakhon said.

Crayfish is currently raised on family farms in Cambodia, while large-scale breeding operations are not yet available.

He said CAAT is now raising 25ha of crayfish, with plans to expand to 100ha soon. Of this, 70ha is for crayfish meat production and another 30ha for crayfish offspring production.

He said the increased focus on aquaculture is also in line with the government’s policy to increase exports of agricultural products.

The Post could not reach CAAT for comment. But according to a technician at the company, the farm started in 2016 and has gradually developed ponds, hatcheries and other infrastructure.

Currently, it is experimenting with hatching and offspring breeding in line with the agro-climatic environment in the area to achieve its plan to produce one tonne of crayfish meat per day while gradually increasing this.

The technician said the farm currently has about 600,000 offspring and can produce about 50 tonnes in six months. It plans to produce five to 10 million offspring next year. Crayfish costs $25 per kg.

Oddar Meanchey provincial governor Pen Kosal on Sunday asked the company to increase offspring hatching to sell and provide techniques to farmers that wish to expand the market in the future.

At the same time, he also urged companies to look for production expansion possibilities in other areas.

The ministry’s first quarterly report showed fish and shrimp production reached 51,866 tonnes, an increase of 20 per cent compared to the same period last year of 43,222 tonnes.

Last year, it was 307,408 tonnes – up 21 per cent from 254,048 tonnes in 2018.