Tiếng Việt | English
Handling swiftlet farming as chicken farming?

Despite the fact that the exporting value of bird nest is up to 2 billion USD annually, swiftlet farming in Vietnam is being self-development with risks and epidemic disease. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will monitor closely the bird house construction, bird nest processing and trading.  

The information was presented at the workshop “Comments on temporarily regulations of swiftlet farming” held in HCMC on 21st of May. Nonetheless, managing swiftlet farming as chicken farming viewpoint was not concurred by companies.

Swiftlet farming needed planning. To the up-coming temporally regulation on condition of swiftlet farming, farmers have to inform local people committee of commune and ward for new bird house. Local authorities ensure the bird house safety standard and locate the bird house within the swiftlet planning area approved by the province people committee. In addition, swiftlet farmers and bird nest processing facilities have to ensure the standard of veterinary hygiene, environment and food hygiene and safety.      

To department of breeding, there are 700 swiftlet farming facilities with more than 1500 bird houses in Vietnam which concentrated from Khanh Hoa to the South of Vietnam. Annually, the bird nest production is about 10 tons. However, Mr. Nguyen Hoang Tuan, General Director of Can Gio Anpha Company, presented a higher figure of 5000 to 6000 bird houses in Vietnam. Although figures vary, authorities and enterprises agree that most of bird houses were built without permitting and planning. “Except 10 swiftlet houses in Can Gio licensed under the pilot program of HCMC, the entire swiftlet houses were spontaneous built without any planning” – Mr. Tuan said. In particular, many swiftlet houses are built in urban areas, where population density is high. It causes negatively impact on the community environment and risk of spreading epidemic diseases.

Mr. Tran Quang Cui, Deputy Director of DARD of Kien Giang province, declared that there are159 swiftlet houses over Kien Giang, of which Rach Gia city has 95 facilities. Similarly, there are 77 swiftlet houses in Ninh Thuan of which Phan Rang - Thap Cham city has nearly 60 facilities. According to authorities, there are many swiftlet houses being built, but return on investment is not as high as expected. “There are many empty swiftlet houses” Ms. Dang Pham Minh Loan, General Director of Yen Viet JSC (Ninh Thuan) revealed, for instance, there are 200 swiftlet houses in Can Gio worth few billion dong each but only more than 50% of the houses are occupied by swiftlet. While in Phan Rang-Thap Cham city, there are only 27 houses over 59 houses occupied by swiftlet.

Mr. Nguyen Xuan Duong, Vice-Director of Department of Breeding, believed that mass movement of building swiflet houses has caused the potential losses for the investors when swiftlet vacated the houses. Along with the avian flu on swiftlet was first found in Vietnam and the word in April. It is time to set the swiftlet farming under the conditioned business.  

To bird nest exporters, trading bird nest between countries is becoming more difficult due to the strict regulations on animal health and product traceability. Therefore, Vietnam has to improve the management system to meet the requirements of importers. Mr. Nguyen Hoang Tuan claimed that bird nest is a high quality natural product that consumed directly, consequently, there should be closely monitored and managed. “Information of Avian flu on swiftlet recently, has affected the business of the local companies and the exported bird nest pricing. To regain the trust of consumers, the government should have firm regulations of swiftlet farming, bird nest processing prior selling to market” Mr. Tuan said.

Other companies also completely agreed on putting the swiftlet farming under the conditioned business but disagreed on building the bird houses in the planed area. “Swiftlet is wide natural specie unlike chicken, we or Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development or the local authorities cannot identify where swiftlets are in order to plan. The investor, then, will take risks for building the bird house” an investor from Long An said. Having the same point of view, Ms. Dang Pham Minh Loan said that swiftlet has different habits compared to domesticated animals. They live wherever they feel good despite luring methods that we apply. According to the “playful” behavior, in a certain area, house with large amount of swiftlet has more chance to attract more swiftlet. As a result, the successful rate for the new bird house in the area is minimal. “It is unreasonable to force the investor to build the bird house in the particular area” – she added.

To Mr. Nguyen Thanh Son, Director of the Breeding Institution, we are trying to control an animal without understanding in full about it. “Vietnam does not have any completed study about swiftlet species, behavior, allocation, epidemic diseases on swiftlet and so on. For that reason, it is difficult to delineate the swiftlet farming. He added, Malaysian government does not define the swiftlet farming conditions but strictly manage the bird nest processing and its products. Therefore, Vietnam should only set the prohibited area for swiftlet farming such as high density population, schools, hospitals and etc, besides those areas, swiftlet farming is free for development.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Vu Van Tam said MARD will issue documents for swiftlet farming development as a conditioned business. Conversely, the content of the documents will be based on fact and to ensure the interests of both investors and communities.

Bird nest export may reach 2 billion USD:

To bird nest traders, there are only few countries in the world in South East Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam which can farm swiftlet at the industrial scale. Among those countries, Vietnamese bird nest is recognized as the top quality. Vietnam can account for 20 to 30% of the whole market worth 6 to 7 billion USD annually which add up to 1 to 2 billion.

Source: Tuoi Tre Online