With the Kingdom’s edible bird’s nest business showing a steady increase, official exports to China are expected to begin soon, the Cambodia Bird’s Nest Federation president Nang Sothy said.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon said last month that the ministry would make a formal request to export Cambodia’s edible bird’s nest to the Chinese market.
Sothy told The Post on Tuesday: “As far as I know, the Cambodian and Chinese governments have already agreed in principle, even though they don’t have the procedure and protocol prepared,” he said.
On May 10, at the opening ceremony of a yellow banana packaging plant which exports to the Chinese market, Sakhon said he would propose to the Chinese side this month to prepare the protocol for edible bird’s nest exports to China.
Cambodia’s bird nest is internationally recognised for its good quality because the Kingdom has a lot of local operations in natural areas, away from industrial plant smoke which results in poor edible bird’s nest quality, according to Sothy.
The current trend of raising swallows has grown rapidly in the coastal provinces, especially in Koh Kong, he said.
“The increase is mainly due to farmers’ expectations of [access to the] Chinese market, in line with new technologies which have made raising [swallows] easier,” he said.
Edible bird’s nest has become a good market, resulting in the number of swallow homes in the Kingdom steadily rising, especially in the last three to four years.
According to Sothy, there are currently between 3,000 and 5,000 such swallow homes.
He said uncleaned edible bird’s nest is currently worth between $750 and $850 per kilogramme, while cleaned ones costs between $1,500 and $3,500 depending on the quality. There has not been a significant change in price since the beginning of this year.
Between 800kg and 1,500kg of edible bird’s nest can be harvested in the Kingdom, of which about 30 per cent is for domestic consumption, Sothy said.
Sok Hong, an owner of a swallow home in Koh Kong province, said the increased demand of edible bird’s nest has led to a boom in the number of swallow homes across the Kingdom.
She said the business requires a lot of capital – about $100,000 to build a five-storey swallow home.
“Swallow raising can be said to be an easy job which brings a lot of profit,” she said, adding that Koh Kong province, in particular, has seen a rise in swallow homes recently due to the booming market.
In 2016 the global market for edible bird’s nest was estimated at $5 billion per year, said Federation of Malaysian Bird’s Nest Merchants Association president Tok Teng Sai, as reported by Bloomberg.
China was the largest market, while Indonesia and Malaysia were the world’s leading suppliers.