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Government mulls bird’s nest regulation

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Feathers and droppings are removed from swiftlet nests before they can be eaten. Moeun Nhean

Government mulls bird’s nest regulation

The government may soon regulate Cambodia’s edible bird’s nest industry. In a directive last week, the Ministry of Agriculture urged owners of swiftlet nest farms to register as required by the ministry’s Forestry Administration, said forestry official Yorn Yuth Vorith.

The move comes as the Kingdom’s bird’s nest industry continues to grow, with profits soaring.

Swiftlet nests, which are created from the dried saliva of a species of swallow, are in high demand in China, where they can fetch over $2,000 a kilogramme.

Cambodia Bird’s Nest Federation president Nang Sothy said there were up to 3,000 swiftlet nest farms across the country in 2014.

Yorn said that by registering, bird’s nest products could be certified and perhaps be a precursor to a state-regulated export sector. The value of the global industry has been estimated to be worth more than $5 billion annually.

China is the biggest market, while Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s leading suppliers.

“As long as swiftlet house [ownership] keeps growing almost across the country, we need to check and control them. Registering will also benefit the owners of swiftlet houses as they will be certified and the origin of their export products will be identified,” he said.

The growth of swiftlet houses, Yorn said, will become a part of economic growth as the value of bird’s nest products are known for their high value in the market. They are a big investment as well, he said.

Ou Vong Vireak, the owner of three swiftlet houses in Kampot province, said the investment needed to get into the bird’s nest industry is at least $100,000.

He said the current market price is between $800 to $1,100 a kilogramme for unprocessed bird’s nests, while cleaned bird’s nests can cost between $1,700 and $2,200 per kilogramme.

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