I REFER to the various articles on swiftlet farming as well as letters from the CAP and Dennis Gong “Swiftlets are real hygienic lot” (The Star, Sept 2).
Being an expert in swiftlet farming, I would like to give a few pointers.
The species Aerodramus fuciphagus do not litter their droppings. Their droppings are only within the birdhouse. Extensive droppings in many towns are not from these swiftlets but from mud swallows that make their nest underneath shophouses.
Indeed, swiftlets are hygienic and do not mix with other birds. The moment they fly out of the bird-house, they will not touch the ground until they return to the bird-house. Swiftlets also prey on harmful insects, like fruit flies etc, and can increase the yield of farmers and reduce the use of pesticides. They are natural pest control agents.
However, in the long term, it is important that swiftlet houses are not located in shophouses in town centres due to aesthetics and noise pollution. They should be stand-alone units within agricultural areas.
They should also be located about 40km away from airports as they could pose a danger to planes.
Apart from that, swiftlet houses should conform to good farming practices as outlined by the Ministry of Agriculture.
As swiftlet farming is now increasingly seen as a financial gold mine, there are a few pointers potential investors must understand.
One disturbing trend is the development of huge bird-house complexes in one location. These are sold as units to potential buyers on the claim that these bird-houses will be filled with birds within a short time.
It is very unlikely that such huge bird-houses of hundreds of units can be filled within a short time. It will take 10 to 20 years or more for these massive bird-houses to be filled due to the slow natural population growth of the swiftlets in that particular locality.
As such, potential investors should make in-depth studies and consult experts in swiftlet farming before investing as the failure rate is more than 70%. The million ringgit investment may yield zero returns.
Apart from that, there are other quick-get-rich schemes using swiftlet farming as a front for their scam. Swiftlet farming entails a low initial return of one to five years, peaking only in the seventh to 10th year.
As such, it is impossible for the operators to give immediate 3% to 5% returns per month.