Coming to terms with the latest technology and practices can sometimes involve a steep learning curve, and one or more failures along the way to mastering new skills… as seen in the video above.
While machines have gradually begun to ease out cattle and water buffalo for some farming activities in Cambodia, walking tractors, referred to colloquially as kor yun, still remain out of reach for the average Cambodian farmer.
Despite the high price tag –ranging between $4,000 and $12,000 — the petrol-driven devices have the ability to dramatically improve a farmer’s life through all phases of the rice production cycle.
Coupled to a trailer and fitted with pneumatic wheels, they also provide a rudimentary form of transport for getting around the neighbourhood and as such are a not uncommon sight on rural roads throughout the region. However, as can be seen in the video above, getting the hang of them takes a little getting used to.
Originally posted to Facebook with the caption ‘if drunk, don’t drive’, a closer examination of the video indicates that the judgement might be considerably too harsh and inaccurate.
It is unlikely a drunk operator would bother donning a safety helmet before attempting some form of ‘land-surfing’ across a muddy paddy field, while a group of farmers in the background appear to be watching a similar machine being used in a more traditional manner. The main subject in the video above also doesn’t appear to be dressed for day of paddy churning.
In addition to being a staple, rice is one of Cambodia’s largest export products, representing around half of the country’s agricultural gross domestic product. In 2019 Cambodia exported some 620,000 tons of rice, placing it in the top 10 rice exporting countries globally.
However, a lack of mechanisation, inadequate irrigation, poor quality seed stock, a lack of drying facilities, and low farmer education means yield and returns remain low. Many landowners are unable to grow enough to feed their household, let alone export.
As such, preparing paddies for planting, and harvesting, remains a community-based task in many parts of the country, complete with rituals, ‘field days’, and banquets. The labour intensive nature sees local demand for labour peak as neighbour-helps-neighbour in the still very much subsistence economy of rural Cambodia.
While owning a kor yun remains a mere dream for many Cambodian farmers, there’s no harm in taking one for a test drive at every opportunity, people in some countries paying for a ride like that above.
Feature video បងធំ ក្រុងថេប
- Agriculture almost mechanised (Khmer Times)
- Planting machinery imports set to improve rice farming (The Phnom Penh Post)