The Preah Vihear Provincial Agriculture Department on Monday ordered its staff to help farmers by buying up invasive golden apple snails that are currently destroying their rice fields, according to the head of the department.
Kong Yuthara, Chheb district governor, said some 10 hectares of rice fields had been destroyed by the snails, with three villages in Kampong Sralao II commune seriously affected.
Over the past three days, farmers collected some 500 kilograms of snails, as well as 15 kilograms of snail eggs from their rice fields, Yuthara said.
Villagers were paid 300 riel per kilogram of snails and 2,000 riel per kilogram of snail eggs at the request of Peung Tryda, director of the provincial Agriculture Department, who inspected the damage on Monday, he said. Farmers whose fields were destroyed also received rice seeds and seedlings for transplants.
“For Chheb district, this case of gold snails destroying the rice fields was the first one ever,” he said. “Now, we incentivise farmers to start [collecting] the snails and their eggs from their rice fields to save their rice farms.”
The snails and eggs will be used to feed animals such as ducks and fish, he added.