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Swiftlet farmers hope China ban will be lifted soon

PETALING JAYA: It’s a waiting game for local swiftlet farmers ever since China banned bird’s nest from Malaysia following the bird flu outbreak in Kelantan.

These farmers are hoping that the ban, imposed last week, would be lifted before their next harvest so that their income would not be affected.

“Right now, raw bird’s nest in Sabak Bernam is priced at RM2,800. We will only know the new price when we sell our next harvest.”

“Hopefully, the ban would have been lifted by then,” Association of Selangor Swiftlet Operators president Datuk George Kee said yesterday.

Processed bird’s nests, Kee said, could fetch between RM5,000 and RM7,000, depending on the grade.

“There isn’t a standard price. It boils down to market demand,” he said.

On March 8, China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine raised an alert on H1N1 cases in Kelantan and subsequently banned Malaysian bird’s nest from entering Chinese borders.

Federation of Malaysia Bird’s Nest Industry Merchant Asso­ciations secretary-general Datuk Lee Yuen Fong was optimistic that the ban would be temporary.

“I believe that the governments from both sides will come to an understanding very soon,” said Lee yesterday.

“Even the minister has agreed to take a ‘hands on’ approach to solving the matter.

“The ban will only be a short term measure and it will not have a big effect,” Lee added.

He was referring to Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek who was reported by Sin Chew Daily to have said that the ministry would send a representative to China to explain the matter.

“Basically, the H1N1 situation in Kelantan is under control. It has not spread to other areas.

“We will also ensure that raw bird’s nest in the affected areas will not be processed or be allowed to leave,” Ahmad Shabery was quoted as saying.

According to a protocol signed between Malaysia and China in 2012, the inspection, quarantine and hygiene requirements for the importation of bird’s nest stipulated that Malaysia must stop its export in the event of avian influenza.

Subject to evaluation, China will allow the export to resume provided that the bird’s nest is heated to at least 70° Celcius for 3.5 seconds and above to kill the avian flu virus.

According to Chinese state media Xinhua yesterday, China consumes more than 600 tonnes of bird’s nest a year, of which 95% is imported elsewhere.

Malaysia produces around 300 metric tonnes of bird’s nest annually.

bird s nest , china , malaysia , agriculture