They will provide the industry with a much needed framework to operate in a sustainable manner. The guidelines, if accepted, will put Malaysia ahead of leading bird's nest producers like Indonesia and Thailand. "The 1GP will be the first swiftlet industry guidelines in the world," said Veterinary Services Department director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin.This will mean that the industry, sparked by the migration of birds from Indonesia in 2000 and now a thriving business worth RM1.5 billion annually, would have its own standard, he said. The 1GP would provide the framework to supervise the industry in a holistic way, including in terms of licensing, sampling, production and export of swiftlet bird's nests abroad, particularly to China.
Aziz said 1GP had the full support of the Health Ministry, Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry and the Housing and Local Government Ministry. Swiftlet bird's nests, ornamental fish and seaweed are non-food high-impact sectors which the ministry are focusing on to contribute to the nation's economy.The speed at which the industry has grown over the last few years has brought about a major dilemma in terms of licensing of swiftlet-rearing premises in shophouses in towns in Penang, Malacca and Sarawak due to problems like health risks, diseases, smell and noise.
Sarawak has laws preventing rearing of birds in urban areas. Malacca and George Town (Penang), which are recognised as world heritage sites by Unesco, are also home to many swiftlets. Malacca alone has 17 swiftlet premises in the heritage zone. Malaysia has about 50,000 swiftlet premises, producing over 12 tonnes of bird's nest monthly. One kilogramme of bird's nest can fetch RM4,000. -- Bernama