Cambodia has about 800 licensed croc farms with about 7,000 breeding females and 4,000 breeding males in Siem Reap, Battambang, Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Thom. Farmers sell roughly 100,000 baby crocodiles per year to Thailand, Vietnam and China, at about $10 a head, which means farmers are missing out on more profitable sales to Singapore, which demands top-quality skins free of cuts and nicks.
‘Number one quality skins are purchased internationally for $4.50 a centimetre, and a crocodile can grow to 50cm wide, so one crocodile can earn about $225. They also get about 10kg of meat to sell for extra revenue,’ Thuok stated, adding that Cambodia’s croc skins are rated only number three or number four. The government hopes that better training will help Cambodia to become a top-tier supplier.
Last year, the Fisheries Administration, with funding from Singaporean companies, began educating farmers in Siem Reap in techniques to prevent skins from being damaged. Internationally recognised standards established by Singaporean companies require farmers to raise crocodiles in smoothly paved, compartmentalised pools. They must also remove the crocodiles from the pool each day to change the water, and the pool itself must be sprayed to protect the crocs from insects that eat and damage the skins.