Pov Peung is a farmer in Siem Reap province’s Kralanh district who has traditionally relied on his farmland. Previously, from year to year, he used the land for the sole purpose of growing rice, until 2019, he began to change his habits to try something new.

Peung’s rice cultivation had become so unprofitable that he hadn’t bothered to make use of it for several years at that point.

Instead of rice, he decided to raise crayfish and used his flooded rice fields to make a crayfish habitat. Things have been working out well for him as the farmer says the crayfish are far more profitable.

“Raising crayfish in the field like I am doing is quite profitable because there is no need to spend on setting up a feeding system or a pool and a water supply and roof. The crayfish can also be raised in the field naturally here because of the favourable weather in our district and the fact that I can get enough water for the field to be able to raise them well,” he said.

Peung is farming Australian crayfish and he said that they have a good market because there is a lot of demand for any crayfish currently.

“We can sell them to restaurants in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville and our price can be quite high, not less than $20 per kilogramme,” he said.

Because this farmer’s methods are natural, the quality of the crayfish obtained is thought to be better than others in the market and many customers prefer to buy crayfish from him.

Starting out with raising only about 300 crayfish in 2019, Peung now has tens of thousands of them and has expanded his fields to raise even more.

He said he divides them into three different sizes and levels. Number one size has to be given at least six months to grow before harvesting, number two takes an average of four months and the number three crayfish are the smallest at just three months growing time.

“To feed the crayfish, we can use natural feed or imported feed, but most farmers use natural feed found in the field or in existing ponds such as algae, aquatic plants, plankton and farm products around the house such as ripe mangoes, vegetables, pumpkins, mung beans and so on which are local products that can benefit us partly,” he said.

However, raising them in this way also poses a number of challenges, most notably the dangers of the effects from pesticides that other farmers might use near his crayfish farm. Another major problem is the frequent flooding that comes with some regularity now as he has lost many crayfish from his farm because of it.

Money talks, however, and Peung’s crayfish farm is earning him enough cash for it to be considered a big success, so he intends to expand his breeding to supply the domestic market further and possibly begin to export his crayfish as well.