Swift­let farm­ers hope China ban will be lifted soon

The Star Malaysia - - Nation - By ADRIAN CHAN adri­an­chan@thes­tar.com.my

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 sec­re­tary­gen­eral 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 Agro­based 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.

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