Sabah set to become major producer of bird’s nests

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KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has the potential to become a major producer of edible bird’s nests (EBN) in Malaysia.

Rimaforce Sdn Bhd R&D director Dr Faiz Hashim said this was based on several factors including its unpolluted natural environment and the presence of three swiftlet species which could produce quality EBN suitable for processing into health drinks.

Speaking after the opening of a training course for EBN entrepreneurs involving 50 participants from Sabah, he said the One Family One Swiftlet House programme that was introduced in Perlis should be expanded to Sabah.

“In Perlis, 29 swiftlet houses were built under the pioneer programme implemented by the state government in a move to eradicate poverty and 89 per ent of those were successful.

“Clearly, this programme has brought the participants out of poverty and they now receive between RM1,000 and RM2,000 monthly each,” said Faiz who is also involved in the downstream industry in Perlis.

Sabah has two caves that host millions of swiftlets, namely Madai Cave in Kunak and Gomantong Cave in Sandakan but it did not mean other areas could not be exploited for swiftlets projects, he said adding that EBN sales in Sabah was estimated at RM6 million.

Meanwhile, Rimaforce CEO Datuk Seri Jenar Lamdah said his company planned to set up a bird’s nest processing plant in Kota Belud within two years.

To realise this, he said, the company was intenfying the training programme for swiftlet entrepreneurs so that there would be sufficient supply for downstream industries in the state.

The federal government aims to capture 40 per cent of the global market for EBN in 2020 by increasing production and downstream industries. The annual global market for the swiftlet nest is RM10.2 billion.

Malaysia was currently the world’s second largest producer with RM1.5 billion sales, said the Treasury in the 2010/2011 Economic Report released Friday.— Bernama