Recent rainfalls in Kompong Thom province have signaled the beginning of the annual cricket season, when families armed with plastic sacks and torches scour their villages at night in search of the delectable insects.
According to Uth Sam An, the governor of Kompong Thom’s Stung Sen district, more than 80 percent of villagers in the cricket-teeming Kompong Thom town have been partaking in the nightly hunt.
“When the rain began, the cricket season started,” Uth Sam An said Tuesday, adding that the season usually continues into September.
Some families are able to catch between 200 kg and 400 kg of crickets in a single night. They can then be sold to middlemen for between 2,500 riel (about $0.25) to 10,000 riel (about $2.25) per kilogram, he said.
Those crickets are then transported for consumption in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Thailand, according to Deputy provincial Governor Som Sophat.
He said Tuesday that his province, abutting the Tonle Sap lake, is the largest provider of crickets in the country.
This year, however, cricket-hunters have seen a decrease in their catch. Last year, some villagers caught up to 5 tons of insects a single night, Uth Sam An said.
He added that people also face problems selling frozen crickets to Thailand, especially if they pack them in dirty ice.
“If Thailand allows them to ship [in more hygienic methods], people will make no profit,” Uth Sam An said.
And bad press in Thailand won’t likely make it easier for Cambodian cricket sellers either.
According to a Deutsche Presse-Agentur report on Friday, more than 100 people have fallen ill and checked into Thai hospitals after eating crickets reportedly imported from Cambodia.
The crickets had been boiled and packed in plastic bags, the report said.