China Signs Protocol with Malaysia to Allow Bird’s Nests Entry, Brings Relief to Swiftlet Farmers

Bringing relief to the Swiftlet farmers in Malaysia, China and Malaysia signed a protocol which entails quality assurance, inspection and hygiene standards for bird’s nests to enter China from Malaysia. 

The issue came into the limelight when the Chinese government imposed mandatory RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device) tagging for all bird’s nests imported into China from Malaysia. The protocol entailing RFID use was signed on September 14, and saw protests from farmers who claimed that the new protocol made them less competitive and increased the cost burden on them.

The two countries were represented by Minister for Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Mr. Datuk Seri Noh Omar from Malaysia and the Chinese Minister for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine Mr. Zhi Shuping. Also present were the 63 representatives from 43 Swiftlet farming associations, and Director General of Department of Veterinary Services, Datuk Dr Abd Aziz Jamaluddin.

The agreement was signed following a 5 hour long meeting with representatives of the Swiftlet bird nest association. Several other proposals recommended by the association will also be considered and included in due course of time. Of the many proposals submitted by representatives, the prominent one was to include broader definitions of tracking, and not limiting it only to use of RFID devices.

However, despite the assurance from the agriculture and industry minister, local farmers are waiting for the final confirmation in black and white. They insisted on seeing the hard copy of the protocol before it was signed.

The farmer’s argument to defend the removal on mandatory RFID tagging was that it affected their competitiveness in the market as every ingredient that goes into making of the delicacy would be revealed. Also, it would raise the cost incurred. Currently, Malaysia is the second leading producer of the delicacy after Indonesia.

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