Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Swiftlet farming drives demand for properties- NSTP

Vertical farming as a concept is certainly not limited to plants or vegetables. According to Yasmin and Qhawarizmi of MDRXA, vertical farming is defined as cultivation of plant or animal life within the confines of high-rise buildings. Therefore, swiftlet farming can be said to be an early example of vertical farming.

The swiftlet  is a unique type of bird found mostly in Southeast Asia. The production of edible bird’s nest is by breeding these birds by providing them with a conducive environment which can take the form of the interior of multi-storey buildings.

The bird’s nests are produced from the swiftlets’ saliva. There are many birdhouses in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and other coastal areas in the Southeast Asian region.

Huge appetite
The huge appetite of the Chinese community all over the world for bird’s nest as a health food has generated a billion ringgit swiftlet farming industry in Malaysia. The local swiftlet farming industry has grown exponentially, especially since the Asian Economic Crisis in 1997. During that time, numerous small- and medium-sized businesses and enterprises (SMEs) had to close down due to financial difficulties.

Consequently, many premises were left vacant. Property owners were left with idle units and a number of them started to convert them into swiftlet farms.

There has been tremendous growth ever since. Prior to 1998, there were only about 900 swiftlet farms in Malaysia. By the end of year 2006, there were about 36,000 swiftlet farms all over Malaysia, with Hong Kong and China as the primary export markets.

It was recently reported that Malaysia is expected to have 63,000 swiftlet premises by 2020, producing 870 metric tonnes of bird’s nest worth RM3.5 billion. Naturally, demand for shophouses to house these birds has gone up as well with some small-time developers building shophouses specifically for this purpose. By Khairul Khalid

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