High transport costs, limited demand from neighbouring countries, export licence costs and oversupply in the domestic market has pushed the price of baby crocodiles down significantly this year.
Siem Reap agriculture department director Tea Kimsoth said China, a customer, has also raised crocodiles to supply its own market.
The cost of transporting crocodiles to Vietnam is high, meaning prices are not competitive. Feeding costs of crocodiles is another factor.
“We depend solely on Vietnam and Thailand, so the price is up and down,” he added.
Siem Reap crocodile farmer Sen Rith said the price of a baby crocodile is now $13, while it was about $20 last year.
Crocodile farmers find it hard to survive since the cost of feeding crocodiles was $15 per baby.
Mr Rith said he raised more than 1,000 crocodiles for export to Vietnam and Thailand. He also supplies baby crocodiles to the domestic market.
“It is difficult to ask for help from the government since the price of crocodiles in neighbouring countries is falling too,” Mr Rith said.
He said that if crocodile farmers change the way they raise the creatures it could cut costs and let them compete with other countries, but if there is no new techniques the cost base will be high and the difficulties will remain.
Kheang Mab, a crocodile sales middle-man in Siem Reap province, said there was no set price set for crocodiles at the moment.
The price of baby crocodiles for export from local crocodile raisers was only $11.50. He said it used to be $20.
“The price is up to the purchasers. We cannot set up the price or have a standard price for crocodiles as we depend solely on neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and China,” Mr. Mab said
“It is difficult to compare the price of baby crocodiles this year since it has fluctuated but we are sure that it dropped below the cost base.”
He said there was no current demand for crocodile skin.
Mr. Kimsoth said that to push up the price of baby crocodiles, it would be better if all the farmers were in one association. He said that in Siem Reap alone there are more than 292 crocodile farms.
The Agriculture Ministry says more than 13,000 crocodiles are being raised in Cambodia, amounting to 51,000 tonnes in the first five months of the year.
The number is up by about 150 crocodiles on the same period in 2016.