Saturday, April 25, 2009

Swiftlet Farming in Malaysia


The swiftlet farming industry is a relatively new industry in Malaysia as compared to other fundamental and long-standing industries such as rubber, palm oil, oil and gas, timber, financial services and SMI manufacturing, having only achieved critical mass some 5 years ago.

The edible birds' nests industry in Malaysia, on the other hand, has a much longer and illustrious history having been in consistent operation for the last 100 odd years, and is made up primarily of cottage style operations and mainly run by SMI and SME businessmen. Prior to 5 years ago, these SMI and SME businessmen mainly source birds nests from indigenious suppliers who collect the nests from caves, which are the natural habitat of edible nests swiftlets. As the swiftlet farming industry continues to expand and grow, more and more supplies of edible birds' nests sourced from purpose-built farms that are constructed specially to house edible nests swiftlets find their way into the supply chain.

The swiftlet farming industry has the potential to grow into a multi-million ringgit industry due to the industry’s relatively profitable risk-return profile as well as a continuously growing demand for edible birds nests by wealthy overseas countries. There is also a discernable world-wide trend pursued by international as well as home grown pharmaceutical and herbal products companies in using edible birds’ nests as base materials for producing natural and organic health supplement products for local and overseas consumption.

Definition of Swiftlet Farming

Currnetly, the business of swiftlet farming essentially involves the conversion of people-centric buildings into buildings used to house and protect a certain species of swiftlets (i.e. the white edible birds’ nests swiftlets or the Aerodramus Fuciphagus species of swiftlets) that can only be found in the South East Asian region as well as the design and construction of purpose-build buildings for the purposes of accommodating such swiftlet populations as well.

A continuous vocalization of swiftlet chirps and mating sounds are played throughout each and every day using speakers and audio systems installed within such buildings in order to lure the swiftlets that are flying overhead to fly into the said buildings to mate and make the buildings their new home.

Almost 99% of all swiftlet farms in Malaysia are geared towards the production of white edible birds’ nests.

The History of Swiftlet Farming in Malaysia

The swiftlet farming industry in Malaysia only started to gather momentum after the Asian Economic Crisis of 1997-1998. During that period, many businesses, especially small to medium sized businesses, experienced hard times and a great number of them closed down throughout the country.

The premises that these businesses were located in were left empty due to the fact that no other businesses had sprung up to take their place as a result of the depressed economic environment at that time. Rather than leave their properties idle, quite a number of the landlords for these properties then had decided to convert their untenanted properties into swiftlet farms. At that time, there was only one research and development company specializing in the establishment of swiftlet farms in Malaysia and had almost single-handedly aided and helped grow the industry into becoming what it is today.

Due to the industry's expansion, many swiftlet farming companies have now been establish to serve the many and every growing number of swiftlets farms throughout the country. The web-links of the above companies are included in the bottom part of this Summary Report for easy reference.

The Number of Swiftlet Farms in Malaysia

The swiftlet farming industry in Malaysia has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last 8 years. Before 1998, there was an estimate of 900 plus swiftlet farms throughout the country.

However, after the first generation of swiftlet farms that were established after 1998 started to produce commercially harvestable quantities of edible birds’ nests, more and more SMI and SME businessmen, landlords and investors began to realize the financial viability of the swiftlet farming industry in Malaysia. By the end of 2008, swiftlet farms throughout the country number close to 48,000 units, with an average annualized growth rate of 35% per year (for the last 5 years).

The Major Swiftlet Farming Areas in Malaysia

Over the last 20 years, the swiftlet farming industry in the country basically grew through mostly private funding and operational initiatives and without any help whatsover from the public sector.

The major swiftlet farming areas are located mostly in secondary and tertiary townships where food source is in abundance and pollution levels are at their relative minimum. These secondary and tertiary townships include Kampong Tebing, Kampong Tasoh, Kampong Banat Bawah, Jampong Bakan, Kuala Nerang, Pokok Sena, Kampong Tanjung Radin, Kuala Ketil, Lunas, Kulim, Sungai Petani, Jitra, Bukit Mertajam, Nibong Tebal, Kepala Batas, Cangkat Kledang, Legong, Jelai, Cangkat Jering, Bruas, Pantai Remis, Lumut, Teluk Intan, Setiawan, Bagan Serai, Parit Buntar, Selama, Tanjung Malim, Kuala Kubu Bahru, Rawang, Kepong, Cheras, Slim River, Kulai, Kanpong Bahru Paroi, Alor Gajah, Ayer Pasir, Durian Tunggal, Tangkok, Pagoh, Bukit Pasir, Kampong Machap, Ulu Tiram, Tai Hong Village, Senai, Pontian Kecil, Jemaluang, Kampong Seri Pantai, Mersing, Kampong Sawah Datuk, Kampong Air Papan, Kuala Besut, Tok Soboh, Kampong Pinang, Rompin, Pekan, Kuala Terengganu and Pasir Mas.

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