Saturday, June 13, 2009
The Star Metro: Swiftlet Farmers Cry Foul Over Lisences !!!
Friday June 12, 2009
Found At: http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2009/6/12/southneast/4081431&sec=southneast
Swiftlet farmers cry foul
By PHILIP HII
SWIFTLET farmers in Sarawak are crying foul over what they claimed as “double standard” in the authorities not issuing licences to them.
There are an estimated 1,500 swiftlet farms in Sarawak.
Only two, one in Kuching and the other in Mukah, have been given licences to operate. The rest of the 1,498 are operating illegally.
They want to know why when several West Malaysian states can give out licences and provide guidelines for swiftlet farming, Sarawak cannot do the same.
“Even our new Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak openly supports swiftlet farming. I just don’t understand why Sarawak cannot follow,” lamented a bumiputra swiftlet farmer from Mukah.
When contacted and pressed on this “double standard” issue, an officer from the Sarawak Forestry Corporation Sdn Bhd (SFC) who wished to remain anonymous, said Sarawak will not blindly follow all the guidelines and rules which have been implemented in West Malaysia.”
Inspection: Officials at one of the bird houses in Sarawak.
“We have our own rules and we will not implement those rules which clearly contravene our own state rules” hesaid.
Under the 1998 Wild Life Protection Ordinance, no one is permitted to carry out swiftlet farming within the town areas. Under the rule, the edible birds nest of the species aerodramus fuciphagus and aerodramus maximus which are protected animals, are only permitted to be bred in agricultural areas in the outskirts other than its original habitat like the natural caves.
The officer, however, added that the state government always supports legitimate swiftlet farming on agriculture land as it recognises that it is a highly profitable industry.
As for the guidelines, he said this will take time as it involves several ministries and departments.
Malaysia is now the world’s third largest producer and exporter of edible birds nest, producing about 150 to 200 tonnes of birds nest worth RM1bil annually.
The top producing states are Perak, Pahang, Kelantan, Penang and Sarawak is catching up fast if not for the recent raids on illegal swiftlet farms throughout the state.
After several warnings to demolish the farms on their own failed, enforcement officers from SFC sprang into action in October last year. The small coastal town of Mukah was their first target.
Fourteen farms, all converted from the town’s shophouses were raided. In the operation carried out by SFC officers from Kuching and aided by police personnel, the farm owners claimed that hundreds of eggs and young swiftlets were killed, either dropping to their death when their nests were removed or starved to death after their parents were forced to flee.
After several days of protests from swiftlet farmers in Mukah as well as other towns and the intervention of politicians and ministers, the operation slowed down.
Several months have since passed.
There have been a few dialogues between SFC and representatives from the state’s several swiftlet farmers and swiftlet merchants associations.
Most members of the recently formed Sarawak Birdnest’s Suppliers Association (SBSA) are very optimistic that the state government will soon work out a win-win solution for this “smokeless industry.”
SBSA appeals to the authorities concerned to urgently solve the current impasse as any further delay will only contribute to greater financial losses to the farmers as well as the nation.
Meanwhile, the number of swiftlet farms continue to increase all over Sarawak. Sources said that each day at least two new farms are added to the growing list and many of the new swiftlet farmers are bumiputra farmers and fishermen living in the coastal regions.