Making money from a rat export boom?

Stir-fried or grilled, Vietnamese can’t seem to get enough of Cambodian rat meat, and the global influenza outbreak as well as recent heavy rains have proven a boon for both consumers and exporters.

- Extracted from Ek Madra, “Flu fears, rains buoy Cambodia rat exports to Vietnam”, Reuters India, 18 May 2009.

Long-time readers will know that I have an interest in the episodic rat “explosions” that occur in parts of Burma and northeast India.  In those areas the rats are an unwanted pest causing untold economic, ecological and social problems.  I suppose the logistics of harvesting the rats of, say, Mizoram and sending (Warning: image contains rat tails) them to Vietnam are beyond even the region’s most enterprising entrepreneurs. Any logistically-minded readers care to comment on the possible expansion of this trade? According to the Reuters report:

In Vietnam, rat meat is something of a delicacy….more than 35 tonnes of rat meat a day was imported from Cambodia. Cambodian officials said they did not keep records of this aspect of bilateral trade but reckoned the figure was realistic…Live rats sold for $1 per kilo and dead ones — used for feeding crocodiles in Vietnam — went for $0.37, officials said.

As an aside, readers hoping to catch up on the rat situation in northeast India will find this article about a recent “red alert” has some key details.  The “mautam” continues in parts of the region where the explosive part of the bamboo-rat cycle is not over yet.

About Nicholas Farrelly