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Farmers of crocodile say no to skin exports

Farmers of crocodile say no to skin exports

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Crocodiles at the farm at Krang Svay village, Preah Kompis commune, in Kandal province are sold alive. Photograph: Heng Chiovan/Phnom Penh Post

Cambodian crocodile farmers prefer selling young live crocodiles directly rather than raising crocodiles and selling their skins for export as they believe there is no market, despite officials encouraging crocodile farming for skin exports.

Heng Chheng, a crocodile farmer from Battambang, has raised crocodiles since 1984. He said this year he planned to hatch about 10,000 young crocodiles, which would produce around 9,000 babies.

Even though the numbers of young crocodiles increased, raising crocs for skins was difficult and required huge capital and the co-operation of farmers to do it together, he said.

“We don’t yet have a plan for skin exports. We have heard for years officials appeal, but farmers still do not believe it,” he said. “We are afraid that there is no market created as farmers do not co-operate.”

Sam Nov, deputy general director of the Fishery Administration at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry, said the young crocodile trade was still normal because the farmers continue their work and traders come to buy when the season arrives.

Heng Chheng said that hatching season comes in June or July.

More than 500 farmers export some 200,000 crocodiles to Vietnam and Thailand each year, generating around $4 million, Fisheries Administration director general Nao Thouk told the Post in August.

He said crocodiles could provide several millions more if the farmers changed from selling babies to raising them for skin exports.

In August 2011, Prime Minister Hun Sen pushed for the Ministry of Agriculture and local officials to co-operate to set up a one-stop office to facilitate find a market for crocodile farmers.

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