PHNOM PENH - Vietnam has become the main importer of Cambodia's rats with 50 tons of rats being imported through the checkpoints along the border everyday, local media reported on Friday.
"We are working in the rice fields during the day and catching the rat at night. We can catch about 10 kg to 20 kg rats every night, " the Chinese language newspaper Cambodia Sin Chew Daily quoted a young rat trader as saying. The rat traders could sell them at border for about 3,000 riel (about 75 cents) to 4,000 riel (about $1.00) per kilo.
At the Chrey Thom border checkpoint, immigration police officer Roeun Narin said there was regular stream of middlemen in the rat-meat trade crossing the border, and he knew of more rat-trading at other checkpoints along the border.
Leh, the rat trader in the town of Chrey Thom, by the Vietnamese border, said she buys about one ton of rats per day during April and May from middlemen who bring the rodents from Cambodia's Kandal, Kompong Cham and Takeo provinces. From November to March the haul usually drops to between 300 and 400 kg per day, she said.
Every day there are more than 30 Vietnamese middlemen waiting at the border checkpoints to purchase the rat from Cambodia, an online Vietnamese media outlet reported. The rat sales at the checkpoint of Vietnam's An Giang province alone has reached to about 50 tons in recent days, the officials of Vietnam were quoted as saying.
"Most Cambodians only know a few ways to cook it, but in Vietnam they know many dishes, such as soups, curries and fried rat," Chhoeun, another middleman said. Vietnamese enjoy the small rice-field rats, as they think they are natural.