Kampong Thom ploughing ceremony preparations underway

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Royal oxen eat crops used to predict farmers’ fortunes during the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in Siem Reap province in 2016. Heng Chivoan

Although the Royal Ploughing Ceremony is still four months away, authorities in Kampong Thom province have begun preparing the ground and are establishing committees to handle the ceremony. Kampong Thom deputy governor Sok Hay said a paddy field is being prepared in the new stadium as the venue for the ceremony.

The royal ceremony is regularly observed on May 8. To ensure that the ceremony goes smoothly on the day, the authorities have set May 3 and 6 to conduct test runs at the stadium, in Kampong Svay district’s Trapaing Russey commune.

Sok Hay said plans have been drawn up to prepare the entrance to the venue and erect a large tent, along with exhibition booths for the agricultural products of relevant institutions. Security arrangements have also been made.

“The provincial authorities are preparing various committees to make sure the event is a success,” he added.

Cambodian historian Sambo Manara said that the ceremony is an ancient rite which is observed annually in Cambodia. Under the auspices of the king, it announces the arrival of the rice-planting season and predicts crop productivity for the coming season.

He added that the ceremony was held to remind people of the planting season, and showed the King’s respect for the farmers who feed the people. Traditionally, it was also used to encourage the public to assist with preparing irrigation systems and canals.

“In the modern era, there are officials who take care of the Kingdom’s complex irrigation systems. They must do everything they can to help our farmers,” he continued.

He said it made sense to host this year’s ceremony in Kampong Thom.

“The province has the fourth largest number of farmers after Battambang, Banteay Meachey and Siem Reap. The ceremony will honour the province, and its important role in feeding the Kingdom,” he added.

Cambodia failed to observe the Royal Ploughing Ceremony for the past three straight years, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.