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Oxen predict bountiful rice, corn and beans for farmers

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
The ancient Hindu ceremony was held in Prey Veng province this year. SUPPLIED

Sacred oxen have predicted a good crop of rice, corn and beans this year.
The forecast was made after the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in Prey Veng province on Friday.
The ancient rite, which marks the beginning of the rice growing season, has Hindu origins and is used to predict whether the next growing season will be bountiful.
King Norodom Sihamoni presided over the ceremony alongside government officers including Senate president Say Chum, National Assembly President Heng Samrin and Interior Minister Sar Kheng.
This year Prey Veng governor Chea Somethi fulfilled the traditional role of King Meak in the ceremony, while his wife Chea Phalkun played the role of queen, scattering seeds in the field.
The royal oxen were offered a choice of seven plates of food, and mainly ate rice, corn and beans. They rejected the plates of fresh grass, sesame, water and wine.  
Kong Ken, Brahman chief at the Royal Palace, announced the prediction after observing which foods the oxen favoured.
“There will be good yields of rice, corn and beans this year,” Mr. Ken said. “I believe this because it is our Khmer tradition.”
Hean Vanhan, undersecretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, said the Khmer tradition sometimes proved true, but not always.
“It is a reminder for farmers to start planting,” Mr Vanhan said. “Sometimes the prediction comes true and sometimes it is wrong.”
He said provincial agricultural departments were pushing to help boost farmers’ produce.  
“This year will be good for rice paddy and other crops because of the rains since the beginning of the year,” Mr Vanhan said.
Uon Sophal, a 53-year-old farmer in Kampot province’s Dang Dong district, echoed the prediction that rice yields would be good due to plentiful rain this year.
“We believe in our Khmer predictions, but sometimes it won’t come true if a farmer is careless about organising irrigation or digging a pond for water storage,” Mr Sophal said.
Mr Sophal cultivates five hectares of rice paddy and raises livestock and fish on another two hectares.
“In my opinion those on lower land should not plant beans, because high levels of rainfall can damage the crop,” he said.
He also appealed to government to set up state warehouses and a scheme to buy rice from farmers, to protect them from fluctuations in the market.

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