Monday, July 12, 2010

Thriving swiftlet farming industry helps to supplement income

KUALA LUMPUR: The thriving swiftlet farming industry is set to help the nation realise the New Economic Model (NEM) goals, especially in creating a high income society.The bird nest export that fetches RM1.5 billion in annual revenue is a big contributer for the nation’s economy, and it is one of the trades that provide quick returns.

Moreover, the capital outlay is relatively small and the returns can be realised within a short period.Swiftlet farming involves an initial capital between RM10,000 and RM30,000 to set up a bird house on a 10 feet by 15 feet site, minus the cost of purchasing or leasing the site. If the investors think of joining the ranks of the big players in the industry, than the initial investment can be anything between RM250,000 and RM600,000.

In states like Melaka, Penang and Sarawak, shoplots have been modified into ‘bird house’ to get a slice of this lucrative industry.The Girl with the Dragon TattooThe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The bird’s nest soup is highly nutrious and said to contain elements that contribute to the ‘fountain of youth’.
It is also said to improve blood circulation and in mainland China its consumption is linked with one’s status in the society. It is also a delight savoured by the elites in the Arab world.

Realising of the bird nest industry’s potential to the economy, the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry through Agrobank has set aside RM67.7 million to finance swiftlet farming. Agrobank’s managing director Datuk Ahmad Said noted that the move is in line with the government’s effort to boost up the people’s annual income from US$7,000 to US$15,000 as underscored by the NEM. Ahmad noted that the special fund will enable at least 2,000 potential entrepreneurs to venture into small scale swiftlet farming costing between RM10,000 and RM30,000 while enjoying an interest rate that is as low as 3.75 per cent.

Industry observers note that the loan from Agrobank will allow entrepreneurs from all races to participate in the trade that is currently being monopolied by Chinese entrepreneurs. Ahmad pointed out that the raw bird nest could fetch between RM3,000-RM4,000 per kg and the processed ones can go up to RM12,000 and the high prices is helping the industry to thrive. It is reported that at present there is about 50,000 swiftlet farms all over the nation.

In enticing the poor to participate in the trade, the government also launched a grant worth RM5 million to enable 500 poor families to undertake swiftlet farming. Under the grant, selected families (those earning below RM450 a month) will be provided a bird house worth RM10,000 that is to supplement the family’s income.
In a media report dated Feb 11, 2010, the Veterinary Services director general Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin stated that the department would identify the poor families to be enlisted in swiftlet farming.

However, the lucrative industry that started with the migration of the swiftlets from Indonesia over the last 10 years is yet to settle the regulatory issues. The 1GP guideline for swiftlet farming set by the Veterinary Services Department is yet to reach the cabinet for approval. The Agriculture and Agrobased Industries Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar had previously stated that the 1GP that would serve as the standard for the industry had been finalised by the ministry’s officials and would be brought to the minister’s attention. Apart from the Agriculture and Agrobased Industries Ministry, swiflet farming also involves three other ministries – Health Ministry, Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, and the Housing and Local Government Ministry.

What is certain, like what the industry players hope, 1GP will be implemented immediately to address issues relating to establishing bird houses within city limits that contributes to odour, noise and risk of diseases. Apart from maintaining the status as the leading producer of the bird’s nest in Southeast Asia, the fund and guideline will help propel Malaysia into the forefront of the trade in less than 10 years time.

At present, the main market for the bird’s nest is China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore with Malaysia earning a reputation as the producer of good quality bird nests after Indonesia and Thailand. — Bernama

1 comment:

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