Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bird’s nest traders appeal for govt’s help

KUCHING: Perseketuan Persatuan Pedagang Sarang Burung Malaysia (PPPSBM), an association for bird’s nest farmers and traders, is concerned about the livelihood of natural cave swiftlet bird’s nest farmers, especially those in Sarawak.

The matter was raised following the fear that enforcement of wildlife conservation and control would greatly reduce the income of the farmers.
In sharing their plight when met yesterday, PPPSBM president Datuk Tok Teng Sai pointed out that they had to risk their lives every time they harvested the nests from walls of caves.

Thus, he appealed to the government to treat them like other farmers and fishermen who are entitled to special subsidies and hardship living allowances, and to consider their requests.

He pointed out that a memorandum had been forwarded to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, detailing the ‘touching’ stories of the affected farmers and their daily predicament whilst losing their income.

One of their requests, he said, was to be given a special subsidy for the purchase of raw materials for the swiftlets to grow and multiply faster to ensure a bounty harvest.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Birdnest Importers and Exporters Association chairman Liu Thian Leong said while natural cave bird’s nest faming was growing vigorously in Sarawak since the 1950s, in 1995 concerned scientists from United Nations initiated a ban on such farming because the number of cave swiftlets was diminishing.

Following the ban, he said the association was formed in 1996 to deal with issues related not only to the natural cave bird’s nest farmers but also that of traders, retailers, importers and exporters in the state.

He further said the association then organised a seminar on production of bird’s nest in Surabaya in collaboration with their Indonesian counterparts which attracted many observers from around the globe.

The seminar, Liu pointed out, opened their eyes to alternative bird’s nest farming in birdhouses.
“We were then totally unaware of the birdhouses but our trip to Surabaya has opened our eyes. Previously we thought everything should be natural.
“Then we visited Java and saw these birdhouses and we also learnt from them their farming method. From then on, the business became more transparent,” Liu said.

Indonesia went on to become the largest producer of bird’s nest in the world at 75 per cent, followed by Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
China is still the top importer of bird’s nest from these countries even though it had imposed stringent guideline on quality.

On the same issue, Tok said Malaysia is allowed to export raw or uncleaned bird’s nests to countries other than China while Europeans are not bird’s nest consumers.

Indonesia, he said, only exported processed or cleaned bird’s nest products to maintain their brand name as well as jobs at its numerous processing plants.

Tok said on the whole, the bird’s nest industry in Malaysia is a sunrise industry which is also related to tourism.

He said since the Tourism Ministry is targeting one million tourist arrivals from China next year, bird’s nest industry players should tap the opportunity from this event by increasing production and maintaining quality.

“We would like to make bird’s nests another trademark for Malaysia. So when tourists from China come, we want them to buy our bird’s nests,” said Tok.

Tok expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for mediating with China to lift the ban on the import of Malaysian bird’s nests.

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