Cambodian corn and bean farmers yesterday watched with pleasure as six oxen chose their crops over rice, water and wine during the Kingdom’s annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony, held beside the Royal Palace.
The selection presaged a hearty corn and bean harvest this year. If the oxen had taken the water, the country could have seen an excess of rainfall, Cambodian tradition dictates.
If the beasts of burden had lapped up the wine, an excess of thievery, debauchery and gangsterism may have descended on the Kingdom.
“Khmer have looked to the ceremony for encouragement for generations,” Meas Loeun, a 53-year-old farmer in Pailin province, who watched live coverage of the ceremony, said yesterday.
However, he added that Cambodians cannot rely on the auspicious event alone for farming success.
Many farmers turned to cassava last year as prices for the crop jumped, but Meas Loeun said he was confident that domestic demand for beans and corn would make for a strong market this year.
The royal oxen also ate grass at the ceremony yesterday, an omen of disease and potential pestilence.
Chea Chansophoan, the director of Battambang province’s agricultural department, said that farmers in Battambang province grew corn on 100,000 hectares of lands last year and received about 500,000 tonnes of output.
Cassava cultivation increased from 30,000 hectares in 2010 to 70,000 hectares in 2011 because of a sharp price increase, he said.
While not promoting the superstitious event, Chea Chansophoan said the outcome of the Royal Ploughing Ceremony should have a positive affect on corn yields this year.
“I believe the ceremony will encourage our farmers to grow more,” he said.
“Our officials have prepared some techniques to educate farmers when there are some problems.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at [email protected]