Sacred oxen ate 95 percent of the rice, corn, and soybean offerings during Monday's royal ploughing ceremony in Kampong Thom province, suggesting that these crops will be high in the upcoming planting season.
King Sihamoni presided over the ceremony on Monday to pray for a good harvest. Seven crops and substances were displayed on bowls: rice, corn, water, grass, alcohol, sesame, and beans. According to tradition, the crop that the sacred oxen eats the most is prophesied to have the highest harvest.
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony was celebrated after a three-years hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The ceremony is an ancient tradition that marks the beginning of the rice-planting season in Cambodia.
The ceremony was also attended by senior government officials, religious leaders, and farmers. The king’s representatives plowed a symbolic furrow in the ground with a pair of sacred oxen, and rice seeds were then sown by Brahmin priests.
According to USAID, more than 70 percent of Cambodians work in agriculture related industries, such as farming, fisheries and forestry. In 2021, the agricultural sector made up 22.89 percent of Cambodia’s GDP, an equivalent of $6.17 billion, the World Bank said.
Despite the large proportion that the agricultural sector contributes to Cambodia’s GDP, there are many challenges in the sector, such as land tenure problems, climate change, limited market access, and poor irrigation system, the bank said.
Due to Covid-19 and the Russian invasion in Ukraine, fertilizer prices increased because the war disrupted the supply chain of Russian fertilizer products. Moreover, Russia is one of the main suppliers of fertilizers.