Vietnam holds potential for swift breeding hinh anh 1Bird nest farming in Kien Giang province has boomed in recent years. (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) - Vietnam’s swift breeding industry has potential to compete with regional producers if it meets quality standards, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry Vu Van Tam said at a conference held recently in Ho Chi Minh City.

Organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the conference saw the attendance of representatives from 11 provinces with bird nest operations and officials from MARD and other agencies.

Nguyen Van Trong, deputy head of MARD’s Animal Husbandry Department, said bird nest businesses had been operating since 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 Mekong Delta, southeast and central-coastal regions.

“However, the bird’s nest business faces many shortcomings, especially in planning,” Trong said.

More than 90 percent 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, Trong said.

For instance, Binh Dinh province has recorded nearly 130 households that breed swifts in Quy Nhon city. Of these, there are 39 households located in residential areas.

Huynh Ngoc Diep, deputy head of the Binh Dinh 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.

Do Tu Quan from the Yen Quan 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, Quan said.

Vietnamese Salangane nests (Yen sao in Vietnamese) have not label and origin of products, while businesses have not signed a protocol on importing and exporting bird’s nest products, Quan 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, Quan said.

Last year, raw bird’s nest were priced at 15-16 million VND (660-703 USD) per kilo. It is priced at 23-24 million VND (1,010-1,054 USD) per kilo, even up to 30 million VND (1,318 USD) in some localities.

Vietnamese processed bird nests are priced at 100 million VND (4,390 USD) per kilo, but are sold at higher prices of 200-300 million VND (8,785-13,175 USD) 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 Vu Van Tam said that Vietnam has favourable weather and good potential for farming swifts for their nests.

Investment and support from the State in science and technology are 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 Vietnam 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.-VNA