KOTA KINABALU: Sabah does not have a plant to process its raw edible bird’s nests because investors do not feel certain about their future in the industry, said Sabah Swiftlet Association (Tawau) executive chairman Datuk Kour Nam Ngum.
“People buying our bird’s nest products go to Sarawak. We are not protecting our own turf. The government must come in because we cannot progress as long as we don’t have a direction. Sabah and Sarawak were once the main bird’s nest ranches at one time,” he said to reporters during the Department of Standards Malaysia seminar on Malaysian standards for edible bird’s nest industry yesterday.
“Sabah should have a main processing centre installed as it is at the centre of the BIMP-EAGA region,” Kour said.
He claimed that swiftlet ranchers were facing licensing problems and they hope the government through the Sabah Wildlife Department will issue the licences and not hold back.
“Holding back is not the solution … doing so would kill the industry,” he said, adding that the State Government needs to support the industry because it is bigger than any high-value industry capable of generating income for the nation and eradicating poverty.
Meanwhile, Kour commended the organiser of the seminar, saying that it was important because it would help the industry to overcome obstacles and grow.
“Malaysia is taking the lead in this RM5.2 billion industry in setting standards for edible bird’s nests,” he said.
Malaysia is presently the third largest world producer of edible bird’s nests after Indonesia and Thailand.
“If we don’t progress, we will be overtaken by the Philippines and Vietnam,” he warned.
He said setting the standards represents an identity. (BP)