Prahoc Season Brings Flood Of Villagers to Dai Fisheries

With the recession of floodwaters along the Tonle Sap river, fish migration has begun and prahoc season is upon Cambodia.

The government-run Dai fisheries in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district are hoisting nets stretched by their hauls, and villagers are waiting on the bank to trade rice or money for the fish they will turn into a fermented paste. That paste, the strong-smell­ing prahoc, will provide them with protein and a distinctive flavor throughout the year, especially during the often lean rainy season.

Tep Sothy, Ponhea Leu’s governor, said about 15,000 people are expected to descend during January and February on five riverside communes, where they will probably spend at least three days making their prahoc.

“Most of the people are from the countryside,” he said. “We are doing our best to look after their security. Especially we take care of their belongings, such as their cows.”

The governor noted that this year, more people than ever be­fore have arrived in their own vehicles—cars, vans and trucks. He said most of them are coming from landlocked districts in Kom­pong Speu, Kandal and Kom­pong Chhnang provinces.

Seng Thim, the district fishery chief, said Monday that in only 13 days, more than half of last year’s total catch has already been sold. So far villager’s have traded for 2,400 tons and 24 kg of fish. Last year the Dai fisheries unloaded 4,039 tons and 700 kg.

“I hope this year there are more fish,” he said.

At this time of year the fish cost 200 riel to 300 riel per kg. Fam­ilies, dependent on the fish, will leave Ponhea Leu with 300 kg to 500 kg of prahoc, stored in pots where it will ferment.

According to Joern Kristensen, the chief executive officer of the Mekong River Commission, the Dai fisheries take in 10 percent to 12 percent of Cambodia’s annual catch, which accounts for 16 percent of the gross domestic product.



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