|A swallow-rearing farm in Rạch Giá City, Kiên Giang Province. Kiên Giang was home to around 2,995 recognised farms by late 2022. VNA/VNS Photo|
As the protocol contains regulations on origin-tracking, an exporter wondered if his compliance with the regulations would make any difference to his nest prices.
"Would there be any difference in price between the nests produced by compliant producers and those by non-compliant ones?" he asked.
Đỗ Văn Hoan from the Department of Livestock Production, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) responded that nest prices are determined predominantly by the nest quality and buyers' confidence in sellers.
That means compliance with origin-tracking rules would have no impact on nest prices. However, the rules are mandatory, so they are obliged to origin-labelled their products either way.
"The government is planning to launch an origin-tracking database in which nest producers can register their products online," said Hoan.
Another exporter is concerned that importing low-quality nests has been rampant in recent years. Those nests are disguised as genuine nests and sold at as high a price as the latter, posing serious risks to public health.
"Low-quality nests are doctored with harmful chemicals. They are unsafe for consumption", said the exporter.
However, Hoan revealed that the supposedly low-quality nests that domestic producers have imported to produce nest-related products are genuine.
"Producers import more nests than they buy from domestic traders. Those imported nests are real nests", Hoan stressed.
The official also asserted that producers who add other substances to genuine nests must specify the substances on the product label. As such, it cannot be the case that unpure nests are sold at as high a price as pure nests.
Trần Thị Thu Phương from the Department of Animal Health, MARD, underlined 16 sanitary rules applied to Vietnamese nests exported to China, which lay down certain standards of labelling, packaging and food safety.
She said producers must first apply to local authorities for a farm code and submit a relevant dossier to the department to be recognised as a bird farm.
Next, they have their nest sample tested to see if the nests are up to Vietnamese and Chinese standards. If the nests tick all the boxes, the producers move to the last step involving information gathering to be registered as nest exporters.
"According to the census, Việt Nam had 23,665 recognised bird farms by late 2022. Most of the farms cluster in Kiên Giang and Bình Định Provinces", said Phương.
Official Hoan was concerned that many swallow-rearing farmers have engaged in exports to follow suit. They do not have a long-term vision for their products and are ill-informed about sanitary rules.
Hoan said MARD had assigned his department the task of developing a national database on bird farms to help farmers get entry into foreign markets more easily. The database contains a data-sharing section that would keep them updated to foreign standards.
He also said farmers must follow a three-step process to obtain a farm code. In the first step, they must fill out Form No.01 and submit it to local commune-level authorities for approval.
Once the form gets approved, they will upload it to https://csdlchannuoi.mard.gov.vn and fill out another form on the site. When a relevant agency confirms that the information on the forms is correct, the system will assign farm codes to the farmers.
If farmers want to go as far as to be registered as nest exporters, the agency will carry out an on-site inspection to see if they are eligible for exports. Eventually, the system sends exporter codes to eligible farmers via email. —VNS