Sunday, September 19

‘Only one Sarawakian permitted to export bird’s nest to China’

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KUCHING: Only one bird’s nest farmer from Sarawak has successfully obtained the permit from Chinese authorities to export the commodity directly to China.

Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Kuching, Liu Quan, said as many as 16 farmers nationwide had been given the licence to export bird’s nest directly to the republic, including the Sarawakian.

China had, in July 2011, banned all bird’s nest products from Malaysia, resulting in a huge drop in its price – from RM5,000 per kg to RM2,000 or less per kg. The prohibition was carried out following high nitrate content found in the bird’s nest from Malaysia. Liu Quan, who made a working visit to The Borneo Post recently, said China would be a huge market for bird’s nest industry and hoped that local farmers would not pack it in easily.

“The farmers should strive to fulfil the terms outlined by the Chinese government.

“The bright future of this industry lies in the fact that a bird’s nest centre is now being built at Qingzhou Industrial Zone,” he said.

Liu Quan disclosed that there were two ways for bird’s nest to enter China, the first of which would be via Hong Kong.

“The other way is to export directly into China, by applying for the necessary permit and meeting all the requirements including producing bird’s nest products with nitrate of less than 34 ppm (parts per million),” he said.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Bird’s Nest Import and Export Association president Liu Thian Leong confirmed that there was only one farmer from Sarawak who was qualified to export his products to China. He attributed this to the situation where many local operators found the procedures to export bird’s nest to China ‘too tedious’, or the requirements ‘too stringent to comply with’.

“Many of us prefer to export raw bird’s nest to Hong Kong. Being a place that produces this commodity, there are many buyers coming here including those from China and Peninsular Malaysia to purchase bird’s nest directly from our farmers.

“The price of bird’s nest has recovered a bit, although it is still low compared to its price of RM5,000 per kilogramme before the ban,” said Thian Leong, adding that another factor for the low price was abundance of supply.

Swiftlet farms can be seen across Sarawak, especially in the rural areas of the state’s central region. Sarawak Bird’s Nest Import and Export Association – touted as the oldest bird’s nest traders guild in Malaysia – now has more than 100 members, the majority of whom are from Sibu and Mukah.