The Cambodian Aquaculturist Association (CAA) and Fisheries Administration (FiA) officials led fish farmers from Kandal province’s Sa’ang district on a visit to exchange experiences and learn about commercial fish farming techniques in Battambang province. The three-day visit sought to strengthen mutual support in the field of aquaculture.

Lemphor Vorith, development association officer and spokesperson at the CAA, said the main purpose of the visit was for the association members to network and share knowledge of the supply of fish breeds and hatching techniques. Battambang hatcheries are among the most advanced in the Kingdom.

He added that commercial fisheries in Battambang are prosperous, with most of them farming giant snakehead, red tilapia, “pra” and “po” type shark catfish species.

“In terms of commercial fish farming, Battambang ranks third in the country after Kampong Cham and Kandal. Aquaculture is widespread throughout the Kingdom, although it is concentrated around the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers,” he continued.

Chuon Thuok, who led the Kandal fish farmers to Battambang, said their techniques were similar, but what makes the Battambang farmers successful is the systematic integration between fish farmers in the province.

He added that farmers in Kandal still farm separately from each other, which can lead to issues like simultaneous harvest, leading to a glut of fish on the market and correspondingly lower prices.

“There are a lot of farmers in Sa’ang district, but we don’t coordinate with each other regarding data. This means fish are often either too cheap or too expensive,” he said.

“In Battambang, they are very successful because they communicate with one another. They all have clear plans regarding fish farming practices and market demand, so they can always sell in rotation. I see why it is important for us to work together,” he added.

Thai Channarith, a FiA official who also took part in the visit, said the tour also showed the farmers and fisheries students from the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) how to raise red tilapia in ponds.

He added that the FiA, which is under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, runs regular training sessions on the latest breeding techniques, and encouragers all farmers to keep records, from hatching to harvest.

“If farmers keep detailed records, we can detect shortcomings and correct them,” he said.

“Lately, more and more farmers are paying attention to our suggestions and heeding the advice of our fisheries specialists. This has made their farms more productive,” he added.

According to the FiA report, 330,600 tonnes of fish were farmed in 2022 – equivalent to 91.83 per cent of the FiA’s target of 360,000 tonnes, and a decrease of 17,750 tonnes on the previous year. It noted that 929 community fish ponds had been established, of which Kampong Speu province had the largest number, with 180.

The report added that 331 aquaculture cooperatives had been formed, with 10,806 members, 2,912 of them women, and that 35 new aquaculture permits were issued.