Thursday, November 5, 2009

Consortium To Develop Country’s Bird’s Nest Industry

The Borneo Post
SIBU: A consortium comprising businessmen in the local edible bird’s nest industry has been initiated to further develop the industry and strengthen its position in the world market especially China.The protem deputy president of the newly formed Sarawak Bird’s Nest Supplier’s Association (SBNSA), Jesse Tang Yu Hang, said the consortium known as the Chun Yan Fang will launch a membership drive nationwide this month.

Tang said its present members now were from Sarawak as well as from Kuala Lumpur, Kelantan, Terengganu, Johor, Pahang and Penang and that they were looking forward for members from Perak and Kedah. He said an investment of RM2.5 billion had been injected for the consortium to carry out the groundwork including setting up headquarters and carrying out promotions in China.

It is not easy for individual Malaysian businessmen to carry out promotions and sales of birdnest in China as the competition there is very strong, Tang said. “Our consortium will focus on developing world class quality coming from Malaysia and not to compete on the price or quantity. “We need to pool our resources together. We cannot afford to fight among ourselves or others as we only produce 10 per cent of the world market while Indonesia is the world’s leading producer,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

A kilogramme of processed birdnest currently could cost up to RM10,000 in the market.
Tang said that by joining the consortium, members will also get to know the latest breeding culture, post harvest processing techniques for greater value and have access to more markets besides having their rights and interests protected.

He said in the current scenario where Sarawak prohibited the setting up of birdnest houses in cities and towns for health reasons, those interested could invest in Peninsular Malaysia where the laws were different.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is very supportive of the industry as he is aware of its very high potential as another top revenue earner for the country, Tang said.
On the recent development in the industry, he said: “Our parliament recently endorsed for the industry to come under the purview of the Agriculture Ministry.

The Federal Veterinary Department will act as the lead agency to develop a blueprint on rules and regulations and guidelines and research and development to take it to greater heights.
“We are waiting for a ‘1 Malaysia 1 Bird’s Nest Industry’ policy to be tabled soon,” he said.
Investment in the local industry is now worth over RM10 billion, mainly in infrastructure development while export value per year is around RM1 billion, Tang said. “We expect the figure to grow especially from China where consuming bird’s nest is already a culture and which now accounts for 80 per cent of the world’s demand. “With a growing affluent population, we envisage the demand to increase.”

On the consortium’s plans, he said it would set up more selling outlets and franchises in major Chinese provinces and cities.“We have planned for 40 of which 10 are already confirmed. Besides the birdnest business, we hope to promote Malaysia to more Chinese tourists too,” he said.
The consortium also has plans to tackle the markets of Taiwan, Hong Kong and other Asian countries.

Meanwhile, Tang said the Sarawak Bird’s Nest Supplier’s Association which had about 1,000 members would be the third such association approved in the state. It is expected to be officially launched here on Nov 15 where the consortium would also be promoted towards getting more members from Sarikei, which is the state’s leading producer of bird’s nest, as well as from Kuching, Miri and Bintulu.

Sarawak currently produces about three tonnes of birdnest every month but has the capacity to generate about RM1 billion worth in the near future, Tang said.“Sarawak is basically very big, still pristine and free from many heavy industries. “There are plenty for the birds to eat. When more people join in the industry they will indirectly come to care for the environment,” he said, adding that when the environment is threatened, the birds would be affected. This in turn will affect the industry, he said. On the state law which only allows the construction of birdnest houses in outskirt areas, he said there seemed to be some confusion about the bird species.

A veterinarian Dr Koh Ung Leong, who was also present at the press conference, said only the house swiflets or ‘Aerodromas Fuciphagus’ and the ‘Aerodromas Maximus’ or cave swiflets produce the edible nest. “The ones that cause the nuisance in towns and cities with their droppings and sheer numbers are the barn swallows, house swallows and the Starlings.
“Infact if we are to allow the building of birdnest houses in such settings, the species will compete with the three types for insects,” he said. He claimed that the number of the “nuisance” birds had greatly decreased in Sarikei town where there were more birdnest houses compared with other areas in the state.

Those wishing to know more about the association and the consortium can contact Dr Koh at 012-8861516 and Andy Tiang at 012-8041610. — Bernama

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