|Bird nest farming in Kiên Giang Province has boomed in recent years. — VNA/VNS Photo Lê Sen|
HCM CITY — Việt Nam’s swift breeding industry has the potential to compete with regional producers if it meets quality standards, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry (MARD), Vũ Văn Tám said at a conference held in HCM City on April 20.
Organised by MARD, representatives of 11 provinces with bird nest operations met with officials from MARD and other agencies.
Nguyễn Văn Trọng, deputy head of MARD’s Animal Husbandry Department, said bird nest businesses had been operating 2004, mainly in southern provinces and cities.
According to preliminary statistics from the provinces, the country has 32 provinces with more than 4,280 birdhouses swift breeders, mostly in provinces in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta, southeast and central-coastal regions.
“However, the bird’s nest business faces many shortcomings, especially in planning,” Trọng said.
More than 90 per cent of bird nest farming are located in residential areas and in residents’ houses, leading to many complaints from locals.
In addition, there are no specific regulations that manage the location of birdhouses for swifts, making it difficult for localities to manage and plan, Trọng said.
For instance, Bình Định Province has recorded nearly 130 households that breed swifts in Quy Nhơn City. Of these, there are 39 households located in residential areas.
Huỳnh Ngọc Diệp, deputy head of the Bình Định Province’s Sub-department of Animal Husbandry and Health, said that most households are breeding swifts without any advanced planning.
“They renovated their houses to serve as farms and use loudspeakers to lure birds round the clock,” causing noise and environmental pollution and a risk of disease.
Representatives from other provinces also reported the same problems.
Đỗ Tú Quân from the Yến Quân Vietnamese Bird Nest Company said that domestic bird’s nest has good quality compared to those from other countries.
However, though they have potential to boost exports with high demand, especially to the Chinese market, they are facing problems.
They are exported in small amounts and are mainly sold to tourists, Quân said.
Vietnamese Salangane nests (Yến sào in Vietnamese) have not label and origin of products, while businesses have not signed a protocol on importing and exporting bird’s nest products, she said.
An average of 1,000 swifts make about 400 nests in one season, with each nest about 10 grammes, according to the HCM City-based Institute of Tropical Biology.
The price of bird nest’s increased sharply in the first months of the year, Quân said.
Last year, raw bird’s nest were priced at VNĐ15-16 million (US$660-703) per kilo. It is priced at VNĐ23-24 million ($1,010-1,054) per kilo, even up to VNĐ30 million ($1,318) in some localities.
Vietnamese processed bird nests are priced at VNĐ100 million ($4,390) per kilo, but are sold at higher prices of VNĐ200-300 million ($8,785-13,175) per kilo in the Chinese market.
Representatives from localities and companies asked the Government to have specific regulations on management and development of bird nest farming, and to build quality standards and national brand for Vietnamese Salangane nest products.
Deputy Minister of MARD Vũ Văn Tám said that Việt Nam has favourable weather and good potential for farming swifts for their nests.
Investment and support from the State in science and technology were needed, he said, adding that the ministry and related agencies would speed up legal procedures to ensure environmental security and prevent epidemic threats.
He also asked the MARD’s Animal Husbandry Department, in collaboration with local bird nest firms, to arrange site inspection trips to foreign markets such as China, Malaysia and Indonesia to learn about requirements and conditions, from breeding to processing to export of products.
He said the Vietnamese Swiftlet Farming Association under the Việt Nam Farms and Agricultural Enterprises Association should be reorganised and take on a more visible role as a bridge between companies and state agencies to build brands and create business strategies. — VNS