Grand Andaman wins monopoly on Tanintharyi birds’ nests

Grand Andaman Islands Company has taken over the right to harvest birds’ nests on four groups of islands in Tanintharyi Region that were put out to tender, after the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings failed to make a cash payment for one of the bids.

UMEHL had won the right to produce and harvest swiftlet nests on one lot of islands, in a tender announced on February 9. However, the company failed to make the necessary payment on time, officials said. The UMEHL lot was then awarded to Grand Andaman Islands, which had already won the right to farm the other three lots.

Regional forestry department deputy director U Win Naing said, “After discussions with the regional government and the ministries of forestry and mining, we decided to give Grand Andaman Islands the right to harvest.”

Grand Andaman Islands thus becomes the first Myanmar private company to hold a licence from the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry to harvest birds’ nests on the Moscow, Yay Aye, Kasai Hla, Kaunt Ngar and Mali islands.

Birds’ nests are harvested across Southeast Asia, partly for local consumption and for export to China and Hong Kong, where they are considered a delicacy and believed to have healing powers.

Made from the saliva of swiftlets, the nests are typically eaten as part of a soup.

U Tin Thein, director of the Tanintharyi Region forestry department, said UMEHL had been in the birds’ nest business for years.

Last financial year, UMEHL won all four lots for a bid of more than K620 million. This year, the value of total bids on the four lots reached K1.8 billion, he said.

An open tender system was launched in 2013 but UMEHL has been the sole bidder and winner for the past two years, and has subcontracted a company called Padamyar Yaung Chi to harvest the nests, which can be dangerous work.

The first lot includes eight islands in Dawei district, the second includes 10 islands in Myeik district, the third is for nine islands in Kawthaung district and the fourth is for a group of five islands in Myeik.

U Myo Win Than, director of Grand Andaman Islands, said the main target was to conserve the islands and to prevent the extinction of bird species.

“Only 80 percent of the nests are to be harvested, and the remaining 20pc will be conserved. We will harvest only enough to cover our capital costs, and will not look for profit,” he said.

If a proposed plan for a wildlife conservation area is approved by the Ministry of Forestry this year, the area of the 20pc of unharvested nests will become a bird sanctuary.

“Apart from the harvested area, which will be restricted, the rest of the islands will be open to the public,” he said.

Grand Andaman Islands said it would seek to develop the islands as tourist destinations.

 

Source: Myanmar Times

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