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Sacred Cambodian cows predict bountiful harvest

Written by: Staff
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PHNOM PENH, May 16 (Reuters) Cambodia's sacred oxen have forecast a bountiful harvest but thin rains, leading farmers to call on the government to build more irrigation systems and canals.

At the annual royal ploughing ceremony in front of Phnom Penh's golden-spired palace, the cows ate lots of rice, beans and corn, suggesting ''there will be plenty of crops'', court astrologer Kang Ken told the crowds today.

However, the beasts, who were also presented with golden bowls of water and wine, refused to drink any water, meaning the war-scarred Southeast Asian nation could suffer a year of drought.

''If the rains are going to be poor, we are going to have to have irrigation as a back-up,'' said 31-year-old farmer Bun Nak, who had travelled to the city to witness the ancient ceremony, which was overseen by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Last year, the cows got it spot on with their prediction of an abundant rice harvest. Cambodia produced more than 6 million tonnes of rice for the first time ever.

REUTERS SI RS1055

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