Sunday, March 31, 2013

A meeting to prepare for China auditing tomorrow

As reported in the paper below a meeting will be organised tomorrow to formalise the preparation for China CNCA auditing.

PUTRAJAYA: About 500 swiftlet farmers submitted a memorandum to the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry today asking to be included in future negotiations with regard to the bird’s nest industry.

Malaysia Birds Nest Alliance president, Lim Lai Soon, said nearly all of the country’s raw and unprocessed bird’s nest producers and farmers are currently in limbo.

About 250 tonnes of Malaysian bird’s nests were exported to China before the country imposed a ban in July 2011 after finding high levels of nitrites in the products.

“We want to draw attention of the authorities on a possible wipeout faced by growers if the situation is not properly handled and managed. It could spell an end to the industry.

“We urge the government to include us in all future negotiations concerning the bird’s nest industry,” said Lim.

He claimed that although the Nanning Protocol was signed in September 2012, which allowed for the re-entry of edible birds’ nest into China, till today none of the cleaned bird’s nest from Malaysia have been cleared for export to China.

“The protocol ignored the larger community of growers who merely produce original raw bird’s nest which are not included in the agreement. This community of growers take up 95% of the total production of birds’ nest in the country,” he said.

He added that as a result, the raw bird’s nest could not find an avenue for consumption, which has since resulted in a serious glut.

Negotiations still ongoing

Lim also claimed that the present scenario is due to the “scheming” acts of individuals who recommended to both the authorities in China and Malaysia, to impose strict guidelines for export of bird’s nest, which were made central to the protocol negotiations.

“We wish to reiterate to the government of the day to listen to the voices of swiftlet farmers to expedite the raw bird’s nest export to China,” Lim said.

Later at a press conference, chief secretary of the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry, Mohd Hashim Abdullah, said a series of discussions between the ministry and authorities in China are on ongoing to resolve the issue.

He added that the Cabinet has come out a directive to the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to China, Ong Ka Ting, to assist in solving the issue.

“We hope that with his experience and connections, the process can be hastened. He will try to ensure the Chinese come here as soon as possible.

Hashim said that the Chinese will come over to audit the processing plants besides observing the plantation’s system.

“We are at the final hurdle right now; currently we are just waiting for China to come here and audit our system and I hope bird’s nest can be cleared for export as soon as possible.

Veterinary Services Department director-general, Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin, also said that a meeting will be held to discuss the issue further on March 14 with Ong in attendance.

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