Australia is stepping in to aid Cambodian farmers in enhancing their agricultural prowess, focusing on the skouy chicken breed.

Renowned as “morn srae” locally, this breed is favoured for its succulent meat and impressive egg-laying capacity.

The Australian embassy in Phnom Penh recently highlighted that the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) is spearheading Cambodia’s inaugural community breeding system for chickens.

This initiative, steered by a blend of Cambodian and international scientists, is geared towards refining the skouy breed. The goal is more productive chickens fetching higher market prices.

This comprehensive programme arms farmers with the essential know-how, ranging from breeding selection techniques to advanced flock management, optimal feeding practices, vaccination, bio security measures, and even artificial insemination of hens.

“We anticipate the enhanced skouy breed to hit the market in the coming years,” the embassy shared in a social media post.

Rith Chantha, who leads a morn srae chicken farming community in Teuk Hout commune of Kampong Chhnang province’s Rolea Ba’ier district, remarked that she is still awaiting specifics on Australia’s contribution. Nonetheless, she expressed enthusiasm about the potential benefits.

“Should the Australians offer us the vital skills in selecting, caring for, and nourishing the hens, it would indeed be a boon for our farmers,” she said.

Chantha highlighted that her community, comprising over 800 households, has been previously supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the global non-profit Heifer International.

With each family nurturing over 300 chickens, they see earnings ranging between 800,000 riel to over one million riel ($200 to $250) monthly, supplementing their farming income.

Chea Kimsuor, another chicken farmer from Rolea Ba’ier district, views chicken farming as lucrative.

However, she cautions that while chickens can fetch a high price, illnesses can dent profits.

Initially starting with 70 chicks, Kimsuor expanded her venture responding to the soaring market demand.

“The government’s encouragement during the Covid-19 crisis, coupled with expert advice and favourable bank loan terms, spurred my decision to increase my flock,” she reflected.