Much of this year's catch is heading for Thailand ... and beyond
ambodia's prahok is the best in the world, but the country is losing export dollars
because it does not can the fish paste, the head of the country's fisheries licensing
Nou Buntha, director of Kampuchea Fishery Import and Export (KAMFIMEX), said at least
1,500 tons of Cambodian prahok was exported to Thailand every year, excluding the
amount sent overseas illegally.
Most of the prahok exported to Thailand was from Siem Reap and Battambang provinces.
Buntha said prahok was being sold to Thailand for $200 per ton. Thai companies then
canned it with preservatives and sold it on the international market at $1-2 for
a 200-300 g can.
"Our prahok is number one in the world. I went to France and Australia and ate
our prahok, but it carried the names of other countries."
Cambodia lacked experience in packing and processing the prahok for selling on the
"We have to recognise that we have lost a lot of money on prahok. My company
is not able to build a factory for packing. We have a problem with getting the finance
necessary to make a go in the world market," Buntha said.
Phnom Penh's prahok is produced not only for people around the city and surrounding
provinces, but is also sent abroad to countries like Thailand and Vietnam.
Mam Seng, head of the Fisheries Department's Phnom Penh office, said about 800 to
1,500 tons of prahok was made each year in Phnom Penh, not including the estimated
hundreds of tons made by local families.
Man Phatmas, 45, whose company is a medium-sized prahok maker in the capital, said
she produced between 40 to 50 tons per year. She sometimes got big orders from Thailand
(up to 200 tons) and had to buy the extra fish from other producers. She also exported
small amounts to Vietnam.
Prahok was a good small business, but the income was not much, Man Phatmas said.
She sold fish fat to get extra money.
"Beside the prahok we can sell fat to make soap in Vietnam at one ton for 500,000-600,000