Hundreds of kilograms of mice meat are being traded across the border to Vietnam daily, provincial officials say.
Four districts of Takeo province—Angkor Borei, Borei Chulsa, Koh Andet and Kirivong—have been inundated with field mice in the last two years. The mice have ruined hundreds of hectares of rice fields, the officials say.
But the villagers found a solution that gets rid of the mice and makes them a profit: Sell the mice meat to Vietnam, where the creatures’ lean flesh is increasingly seen as a delicacy.
“Mice meat is valued as good food in Vietnam,” said Ith Sarun, director of Takeo’s agriculture department. He said it can be fried, served with sweet and sour sauce, grilled or rolled into meatballs.
One popular dish is “fried mice with water grass and oyster sauce,” he said.
The commercial trade has worked to wipe out the mice problem far better than last year’s Ministry of Agriculture campaign, which offered Takeo villagers 100 riel to 300 riel (about $0.03 to $0.08) for each mouse caught.
The ministry spent 2 million riel (about $500) on the program. But the number of mice didn’t go down until April, when the cross-border trade became lucrative.
Now, villagers near the border can make 3,000 riel (about $0.75) per kilogram of large mice. Ith Sarun said one villager can catch 5 to 10 kg of mice in a day.
“This year, we don’t need a campaign—people are happy to catch [the mice],” Ith Sarun said.
The trade has made a dent in the mice population, said Tea Leering Hot, director of agriculture for Kandal province. Kandal authorities have led a campaign against mice every year, he said.
A Battambang provincial official who asked for anonymity said mice had appeared in markets there and in Poipet, on the Thai border.