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Saturday, 31 October 2015

(The Star) Second swiftlet eco park to open in Mukah Division

KUCHING: Sarawak is to develop a second swiftlet eco park to produce edible bird’s nest for the export market.
Sarawak State Economic Development Corporation (SSEDC),which has been tasked by the state government to spearhead the development of swiftlet farming, will partner a private company to undertake the planned multi-million ringgit swiftlet eco park project in Mukah Division.
Agro-food division acting head Anas Nasir said the SSEDC board approved the collaboration with Mukah Swiftlet Eco Park Sdn Bhd (MSEP) on the joint-venture project in Beruan between Igan and Kuala Matu a month ago.
“The project on 20ha will involve the construction of 28 units of two-storey buildings for swiftlet farming. Construction work will commence upon the signing of a joint venture agreement,” he told Metro Sarawak. The project will be located in a mangrove swamp.
MSEP, which is an experienced swiftlet farm operator, will have a 70% stake in the joint-venture project with SSEDC taking up the rest.
The price of unprocessed bird’s nest soared to around RM4,500 per kg during the good times five years ago. The price then plunged to a low of around RM1,300 per kg after China imposed a ban on the import of cleaned bird’s nest from Malaysia in 2011.
The ban was lifted in December 2013 with eight Malaysian companies given permission to export to China.
According to a major swiftlet farm owner in Mukah Division, local unprocessed bird’s nest prices have recovered gradually to between RM1,650 and RM1,800 per kg depending.
Most farms sell their raw bird’s nest to local processors or middlemen. The market price of processed bird’s nest has recovered to between RM2,600 and RM2,800 per kg.
There was a sharp rise in the number of new bird houses five or six years ago. A conservative estimate then put the number of swiftlet houses at some 5,000 statewide.
Sarawak also produces bird’s nest from its many caves,the most popular one is Miri’s Niah Cave famed for its superior quality birds’ nest.
Anas said SSEDC’s pioneer swiftlet eco park project in Daro, Mukah Division would be fully operational soon. Four of the 10 units of double-storey buildings have been completed while the other six are under construction.
In 2010, SSEDC and Peninsular Malaysia-based Borneo Resources Synergy Sdn Bhd inked a RM40mil joint venture agreement to develop Sarawak’s first swiftlet eco park in Balingian, Mukah.The project, however, did not take off.
Anas said SSEDC was seeking more investors to jointly open up four more areas where it had secured state land for the development of swiftlet eco parks. Three of the areas are in Balingian and cover about 4ha,20ha and 23ha respectively while the fourth identified site is a 25.5ha mangrove swamp in Matu.
He said a study had revealed that Mukah, Daro and Matu in the lower Rejang basin were found to be most ideal for swiftlet farming.
Agriculture and Agro-based Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Malaysia exported 145 tonnes of edible bird’s nest worth close to RM2bil last year. Before China banned imports, Malaysia was exporting some 250 tonnes of the delicacy to the mainland.
The Malaysian Federation of Bird’s Nest Traders Association has put the number of swiftlet houses nationwide at some 60,000 a year go.