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

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Chinese influx pushing locals, Westerners out of Preah Sihanouk

    Some within the Kingdom’s tourism industry have speculated that the recent influx of Chinese visitors may hinder domestic tourism as the price of accommodations in the coastal city of Sihanoukville continues to rise. Preah Sihanouk province, which has become a hotbed for Chinese investment

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • ‘Dire consequences’ from sanctions, warns AmCham

    American businesspeople in Cambodia have warned that any sanction against the Kingdom would have “dire consequences” that could push Cambodia even further into the arms of China. In a letter to US senators and representatives dated Monday, the American Chamber of Commerce Cambodia (AmCham) said