Malaysia is set to further expand its edible bird nest (EBN) market into Singapore and other international destinations, says Dr Lee Chai Ha, assistant director Exotic Animal Section, Livestock Commodity Development Division, Department of Veterinary Services (VSD), Malaysia.

She said VSD under the purview of Malaysia's Agriculture and Agro-based Ministry, has undertaken a big step to aggressively promote EBN.

"Singapore is the third country we are promoting EBN after China in May and Dubai in July this year, she told Bernama here following the department's (EBN) Awareness Week at the Agrobazaar Malaysia, Sultan Gate, held here from Friday until tomorrow.

Also present at the event were Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore Datuk Husni Zai Yaacob and Malaysia Agrobazaar manager Mohamad Shukri Ahmad.

Apart from these three countries, Dr Lee said they were also looking into the western market.

"However, we will study the markets before moving forward with our plans," she said adding that currently EBN had penetrated the Singapore market through importers and exporters from the republic and Malaysia although EBN exported here are in the form of bottle-ready to drink.

"Now we are want to kind of promote the raw EBN and downstream products."

Commenting on the awareness campaign, Husni Zai said: "It is timely for VSD to organise such promotions while Agrobazaar plays its role to facilitate the products. Singapore is our second biggest trading partner after China and an international trading hub."

During the three-day event, visitors will have the opportunity to watch EBN cooking demonstrations, EBN research displays and an exhibition by EBN industry players.

Consultation/discussion on EBN sessions will also be held.

The Malaysian EBN is from the swiftlet species.

Swiftlet nest harvesting began way back in 1878 in the Niah Caves, Sarawak but recently, it has become a large scale industry, generating profitable income.

It is believed that consuming EBN regularly can give a person exuberant physical and mental strength, and restores one’s youthfulness, while the tonic power of EBN is believed to improve skin complexion and slow the aging process. - Tengku Noor Shamsiah Tengku Abdullah