THE local birds’ nest industry was given a big boost when a guidebook on how to determine the quality of the birds’ nest was launched in Penang today.
State Agriculture, Agro-based Industry, Rural Development and Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin commended the Rural Industry and Entrepreneurship Organisation (RIEO) for producing the guidebook and handing its Intellectual Property rights worth RM80,000 to the Penang Veterinary Services Department (PVSD).
Also present were RIEO secretary-general John Ooh Sin Hwa and PVSD director Dr Anun Man.
“The guidebook offers a uniform reference regarding procedures for identifying and improving the quality of swiftlet nests’ production,” Dr Afif told a press conference in Komtar today.
“This publication is the first of its kind in Malaysia. It is user-friendly and can be downloaded via website or pendrive version. We estimate a minimum of 1,000 E-books to be downloaded by industrial entrepreneurs, farmers and traders in Malaysia.
“The guidebook was a result of two years of study and analysis involving 980 samples.”
In 2018, the birds’ nest industry recorded RM1.317 billion worth of export with Penang contributing 4,733kg. In total, 1,783.27kg of raw cleaned edible birds nest worth over RM16 billion were exported to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Laos, South Korea and the United States. Seventy-eight percent of the export went to China.
Dr Afif said besides being a profitable industry in Penang, it was also a tourist attraction.
This, he said, was also in line with the commitment of the state government in developing the agriculture sector that is part of Penang2030 vision.
Ooh said although the birds’ nest industry was a multi-million dollar business, his organisation found that there was no standard grading for the birds’ nest in the market.
“Our objective is to help the birds’ nest farmers to increase their income. Over the years, the farmers have been selling their produce by bulk. They always get undercut.
“We realise this problem and we want to help them. In order to get a better price, it is important for them to know how to grade their produce.
“It’s a pioneering work for us (to publish the guidebook), to lay down the parameters and to teach people in the industry.”
He said the steps taken by his association to uplift the farmers were also significant to Penang2030 vision as the state was gearing towards high value produce. Hence, he added it was suitable for the launch to take off in the state.
“No other commodity in agriculture is worth between RM3,000 and RM4,000 per kilogram other than birds’ nest. So, it is crucial to any industry to have a proper grading system to determine its quality,” Ooh said.
Dr Anun also thanked RIEO for coming out with a simplified grading system.
She said from a survey, it is found that an average of 1.36kg of birds’ nest was harvested per premises in Penang.
In 2018, there were 216 registered premises used as birdhouses in Penang.
Those interested to get a copy of the E-book can scan the QR code to get the form.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Alissala Thian