Insight & Analysis

The oxen say yes

Published: Jun 2019

Put difficulties arising from the US/China US/Mexico trade wars on the back-burner for a while and spare a thought for Cambodian rice producers.

Threatened by EU tariffs imposed in January on this staple commodity, farmers of the country’s biggest crop have had to resort to unorthodox means of trade protection.

In response to the European trade bloc’s bid to support its own producers (Italy and Spain are its main producers), Cambodian farmers have called upon astrologers from the royal palace to protect their commercial interests.

As part of an ancient ceremony designed to guide agricultural decision-making, Reuters reports that two royal oxen were summoned to munch their way through a feast of rice, beans and corn.

Presided over by King Norodom Sihamoni, the televised annual ritual witnessed Brahmin priest, Korng Ken offer up his prayers for “seasonal rain and regular weather”.

Having digested all they could from decorative bowls, the hungry beasts, dressed in ornate robes and ceremonial headgear, have spoken.

With 85% of the rice and beans and 90% of the corn consumed, a bountiful harvest is to be expected.

With EU protectionism measures in place, this ox-based proclamation comes just in time to meet Cambodia’s new rice export deals with China.

The royal oxen/prayer-based commodity risk management approach is similarly carried out in neighbouring Thailand and Myanmar.

Bowls of rice, beans, corn water, grass, sesame seeds or alcohol having been recently proffered, Thailand’s royal oxen also suggest a good growing season lies ahead.

It is not known if a flock of sheep have been similarly deployed by UK parliament to settle Brexit negotiations.

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