Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Royal oxen predict a good harvest for rice



Royal oxen predict a good harvest for rice

Siem Reap Provincial Governor Khim Bun Song (right) holds a ceremonial plough during the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony at the Angkor Wat complex yesterday.
Siem Reap Provincial Governor Khim Bun Song (right) holds a ceremonial plough during the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony at the Angkor Wat complex yesterday. Heng Chivoan

Royal oxen predict a good harvest for rice

Good harvests for rice, corn and beans are again predicted for the coming year according to the Royal Astrologer’s interpretation of the royal oxen’s eating habits yesterday on the occasion of the annual Ploughing Ceremony.

Under the auspices of King Norodom Sihamoni at the Elephant Terrace in Siem Reap’s Angkor Archaeological Park, a pair of brown oxen were given the options of eating from golden chalices of rice, corn, beans, sesame, water, grass and rice wine.

The bovines’ decision to eat “95 per cent of the beans, 90 per cent of the corn and 90 per cent of rice demonstrates that agricultural production will be better” this year, Royal Astrologer Kang Ken declared.

“However, it is just a prediction,” he continued, adding that farmers should pay attention to their agricultural practices.

A similar prediction was made last year. However, the Ministry of Agriculture’s 2015-2016 annual report released in April indicates that crop yields fell from the year prior. Ministry spokesman Lor Raksmey said that despite the drought, the 4 million tonne rice yield was sufficient to meet domestic and international demand.

Quoting the poet Krom Ngoy, Raksmey advised farmers to prepare for the growing season and choose climate-appropriate seeds to sow. “When the rainy season starts, grow the crops on the highland and in the lowlands make the dikes firm,” he said.

Two oxen examine golden chalices of food during yesterday's Ploughing Ceremony.
Two oxen examine golden chalices of food during yesterday's Ploughing Ceremony. Heng Chivoan

Yang Saing Koma, president of the agriculture NGO CEDAC, yesterday cautioned that rather than the predilections of oxen, a good yield was contingent on improvement to the Kingdom’s water-management infrastructure. “Or else we will face a loss,” he said.

Koma, however, maintained that the ninth-century tradition was good in that it gave farmers optimism. “They are happy and make efforts based on the prediction,” he said.

Royal University of Phnom Penh history professor Sambo Manara echoed Koma’s words, describing the social value of the ceremony as a “psychological approach” to help people come to terms with the natural world.

According to Manara, the ceremony is a representation of the King’s divine communion with nature in which he asks the rain god Phirun for help. A bad harvest defying a prediction can be interpreted not as a fault of the King, but rather external forces attacking nature.

“We can say today it is global warming, we can say the environment changes . . . It means something else that is evil comes to interrupt us,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • Capital set to beef up security

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng held the first meeting of the year with heads of armed forces in the capital to review and repair the deficiencies related to gun control, drug crimes, social order disruptions due to alcohol consumption and traffic law enforcement. Municipal