Get Adobe Flash player

Newsletters 2011

Sabah Times : Swiftlet farmers want a Government endorsed guideline

KOTA KINABALU: Swiftlet farmers in the state are hoping for a government-endorsed guideline will finally enable them to breed the birds in urban buildings without fear of action from the local authorities.

The Sabah Swiftlet House and Bird’s Nest Industry Association (Swifin) are highly anticipating that the Swiftlet Industry Guideline (SIG) will be endorsed by the federal cabinet.

Its president George Ng said Sabah is currently the only state in the country where the local authorities do not allow commercial swiftlet farming in buildings or shoplots located in urban areas and townships. Existing farmers who already have such operations are in a dilemma because action can be taken against them since their business set-ups are deemed illegal.

“However, if the SIG is tabled and passed by the federal cabinet, there’s always a good chance that it would be adopted by the local authorities and this will give the budding swiftlet farming industry a new lease on life,” said Ng.

He said this when approached at a one-day seminar on successful birdhouse ventures jointly organised by the association and the Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KKCCCI), held at the KKCCCI Convention Hall at Kampung Air here on Saturday.

Some 100 people attended the seminar which featured renowned swiftlet farming expert and blogger, Pak Harry and Sylvester Saimin, a senior officer of the State Wildlife Department.

There were also participants who flew in from Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak, and one single participant from Cambodia.

Ng noted that during a recent courtesy call on the Mayor, Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim, to discuss on the plight of the swiftlet farmers, the latter informed Swifin that the City Hall is also waiting for the approval of the SIG before it decided on how best to adopt it.

While acknowledging that swiftlet farming in buildings and shoplots received resistance from certain quarters including politicians, Ng attributed it to a misconception.

These misconceptions ranged from its impact on human health and wellbeing due to the potential spread of disease from the droppings and the noise made by the birds.

According to him, studies and tests carried out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed that swiftlets were not carriers of any form of disease including the deadly influenza H1N1 virus.

This was due to their dietary habit which do not include consuming dead animals but only on airborne living insects.

Unlike other species of birds, the swiftlets being aerial will never go down to the ground or mix with other avians, hence completely eliminating the chance of coming into contact with other species which could be carrier of some diseases.

As for their droppings and the noise, Ng said these can be controlled using proper methods.

He also believed that swiftlet farming in urban areas could help control the population of insects such as mosquitoes and termites.

“Besides this, it helps boost property prices as what has happened in many urban areas in Peninsular Malaysia which allow swiftlet farming in buildings and shoplots. In some places like Setiawan and Sabak Bernam, some 70 – 80 per cent of the shophouses there have been converted into birdhouses for swiftlet farming,” he said.

There are an estimated 50,000 birdhouses in Peninsular Malaysia producing over 12 tonnes of bird’s nest monthly. The industry is said to be worth more than RM1.5bil per annum.

The SIG, if accepted, will give the industry a framework to operate in a sustainable manner and will put Malaysia ahead of leading bird’s nest producers like Indonesia and Thailand.

The guideline will provide the framework to supervise the industry in a holistic way, including licensing, sampling, production and export of swiftlet bird’s nest abroad, particularly to China.

It was recently reported that the guideline had the full support of the Health, Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry, and the Housing and Local Government Ministry.

It was supposed to be tabled in the Federal Cabinet end of last month but had been delayed.

Source : Sabah Times