Cricket-harvesting season is in full swing in Kompong Thom, as well as other provinces around the country, with farmers giving different accounts yesterday of how many insects the fields are yielding compared to past years.
“So far this year, I collected nearly one ton of crickets, less than in the last few years, when I collected between two and three tons,” said 46-year-old farmer Chea Hou, of Kompong Thom province’s Stung Sen City. Mr Hou added that he didn’t know why there was a decline.
More and more farmers are gathering crickets during the May to August season, according to Mr Hou.
But 41-year-old Heb Yet, of Siem Reap province’s Chi Kreng district, said this year’s harvest has been good.
“This year I have collected more crickets,” he said, adding that he isn’t sure why. He could not provide a total, but he said he collects and buys anywhere from 50 to 300 kilograms of the bugs in a night.
Vendors pay anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000 riel, or about $1.75 to $2.50, per kilogram for the bugs, which are often taken to Poipet, and then Thailand, or to Phnom Penh, according to both Mr Hou and Mr Yet.
Chan Ton Yves, secretary of state for the Ministry of Agriculture, also said he has no figures on cricket collection, but said the practice is good for agriculture.
“Crickets are an insect that always destroy villagers’ crops,” he said. “It’s good that farmers clear insects without using chemicals.”
Yang Sang Koma, president of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said most crickets are harvested in the provinces around the Tonle Sap lake, with Kompong Thom province producing most of the insects.
(Additional reporting by Clancy McGilligan)