~Disallowing swiftlet farming

Wednesday April 21, 2010

Penang may follow Sabah in disallowing farming in urban areas



THE moratorium on swiftlet farming should not be taken as a sign that the state government is allowing the activity in urban areas, said Penang Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow.

“The moratorium has been extended thrice as the state is still waiting for the national guidelines on the industry from the Agriculture Department and the Veterinary Services Department.

“The state recognises the swiftlet farming industry as a revenue earning trade but it should be done properly. We are mulling over the idea of moving the industry out of urban areas such as George Town,” he said when contacted on Monday.

Lucrative industry: Young swiftlets in bird nests in one of the swiftlet houses in George Town.

Chow said the breeding activities should preferably be moved to an agriculture area, adding that there was no specifically zoned areas for swiftlet breeding in the state as this comes under the jurisdiction of the Veterinary Services Department.

He was responding to a decision by the Sabah Cabinet to ban swiftlet breeding from major urban areas three weeks ago.

Its Resource Development and Information Technology Minister Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai had placed the ban within all major towns, citing environmental and health threats posed by the birds as well as them being a nuisance.

Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) president Khoo Salma Nasution said the organisation lauded the move by Sabah and had been campaigning for an end to swiftlet farming in George Town.

“We hope the precedent set by the Sabah Government would be acknowledged and emulated by the Penang Government.”

Meanwhile, Association of Swiftlet Nests Industry (ASNI) president Carole Loh said the existing houses in George Town should be allowed to continue because these birdhouses were set up following a 2005 state government guidelines.

“The guidelines allowed swiftlet farming and many birdhouses were erected on that basis.

“The swiftlet farmers have invested a lot of money and it takes at least three years to see returns.

“The association is all for guidelines and regulations, and we are ready to work with the local authority to maintain the houses,” she said.