A prominent Cambodian businessman has started raising local bulls exclusively for food consumption, in hopes of providing better and cheaper beef in domestic and international markets.
Mong Reththy, who owns a rubber trading company and a palm oil plantation, has developed a cattle ranch near his palm plantation in Sihanoukville and bought more than 1,000 young bulls from local villagers for $100 to $150 apiece.
“We want to sell their meats in local as well as Malaysian markets,” said Mong Reththy, who also plans to open a beef processing factory near his ranch. “I am sure local hotels and restaurants will be interested in buying my beef products because they are much cheaper and fresh.”
Agri-businesses like beef processing are ones the government has wanted to develop in Cambodia, where nearly 90 percent of the population works on farms.
Government officials said Mong Reththy’s ranch is the first attempt in Cambodia to raise cattle exclusively for beef.
They say meat at Cambodian markets is almost always that of bulls slaughtered after they are no longer used in farming. Many half-processed meats—typically whole sides of beef yet to be carved into individual cuts—are imported from neighboring countries. Mong Reththy estimated at least a ton of beef is imported from Vietnam a day.
Chan Tong Yves, secretary of state for the Agriculture Ministry, said Sunday the business would help create jobs for farmers.
“This is a great idea to raise bull to export Cambodian beef,” he said, adding that Malaysia has signed a business treaty with the government to buy Cambodian beef. “It could also provide more jobs for villagers at rural areas.”
Mong Reththy said he plans to raise as many as 6,000 bulls at his ranch, buying young bulls up to 6 months old from local farmers.
He is looking for contract farmers to each sell one young bull for his project. He will then offer to split the profit made off that animal with the farmer.
Mong Reththy also plans to create special bulls, breeding Cambodian cows with bull sperm imported from Malaysia. He said his ranch has already hired a Malaysian expert in breeding and raising bulls.
“The bulls at my ranch only eat and sleep without working,” Mong Reththy said, emphasizing the differences between his bulls and other cattle raised for farming.
His bulls are fed with potatoes and corn, not grass like regular cattle, and then will be slaughtered and processed before they become 2 years old.
Supermarkets are interested in the cattle ranch project, expecting they will be able to sell fresher and cheaper meats.
“If local beef is available for us, I would definitely buy it because it must be fresher than those imported,” said Keo Sarun, director-general of the Big A Supermarket. She said only imported Australian beef is safe enough to sell at her supermarket now.