The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has set up a technical working group to negotiate the exporting of bird’s nests to China, in view of its growth potential and value in the market.
Edible bird’s nest, known for its healing qualities in traditional Chinese medicine, is made from the dried saliva of white-nest swiftlet (Aerodramus fuciphagus), a native of Southeast Asia.
According to a letter by the ministry dated July 25, the working group is tasked with preparing technical documents to negotiate the opening of the export market for the product to China by collaborating with the private sector.
The working group would be liaising with China’s General Administration of Customs to sign a protocol on phytosanitary requirements for the export.
It will also disseminate and introduce registration procedures and requirements for companies and other parties who wish to export bird’s nest products to China.
Minister Veng Sakhon told The Post on August 3 that efforts to negotiate with the Chinese side by selecting potential Cambodian agricultural products for export to China, including bird’s nests and durians, have been ongoing.
He said once the working group completes negotiations with the Chinese side, the ministry will prepare the protocol to sign, signalling Cambodia’s agreement to meet China’s requirements for export.
“Currently, we do not have a specific figure on the number of local swiftlet nest producers, as we have to wait for the completion of negotiations with the Chinese side before we can encourage them to register.
“Following that, our officers would train producers and help improve breeding methods to meet the Chinese export standards,” he said.
Tre Nemol, a man-made swiftlet home specialist who is well-versed in the intricacies of the Malaysian market, expressed gratitude to the government for its plans to open up bird’s nest exports to China, noting that it is great news for him and swiftlet farmers alike in Cambodia.
“Our company plans to export edible bird’s nest products directly to China. We will register as soon as the negotiation is successful because we currently have a partnership with a Chinese company,” said Nemol, who is also the founder of Swiftlet Cultivation Co Ltd.
“We will be able to expand our edible bird’s nest market amid a remarkable growth in the swiftlet raising business now,” he added.
Chhoeun Vandy, who has been cultivating swiftlets in Battambang province for four years, said he earns an average of $3,000 a month from local customers who buy them for export to Thailand.
“If we can export directly to China, it would be good because in the past we only sold to Thai traders who re-export to China. Direct shipments to China could mean better prices,” he said.
According to swiftlet breeders in Cambodia, uncleaned bird’s nests cost an average of $500 to $600 per kilogramme while cleaned ones cost from $1,600 to over $2,000, depending on size and quality.
In Malaysia, the price of uncleaned bird’s nests is between $800 and $1,000.