Swiftlet Farming: New Commodity Chains and Techniques in Sarawak and Beyond

  • Haruka SuzukiEmail author
  • Tetsu Ichikawa
  • Logie Seman
  • Motoko Fujita
Part of the Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research book series (AAHER)


This chapter analyses the characteristics of the contemporary edible birds’ nest trade in Sarawak with special reference to how changing knowledge and new commodity chains and techniques are affecting business trends. The two trends in the trade are: (1) the shift from traditional ecological knowledge and practices to more scientific and economic knowledge and practices; and (2) the move from the collection of nests in caves to swiftlet houses. The introduction of swiftlet farming and the resulting new method for birds’ nest collection are transforming people’s environmental knowledge and ethnic relationships in Sarawak society. The new farming method includes constructing buildings for nesting swiftlets, but this method does not include breeding and domesticating the swiftlets or using their eggs, meat or feathers. Swiftlet house owners are searching for more scientific knowledge of swiftlet ecology and are using technological equipment to ensure the greatest chance of success in the industry. Traditionally, indigenous people collected birds’ nests from caves, local Chinese middlemen bought and distributed them, and people in mainland China and Hong Kong imported, consumed and re-exported them. Since the introduction of swiftlet farming in houses, the Chinese in Sarawak have dominated these new farming methods from upriver to downriver areas.


Sarawak Birds’ nests Trade Farming Swiftlet houses 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Haruka Suzuki
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tetsu Ichikawa
    • 2
  • Logie Seman
    • 3
  • Motoko Fujita
    • 4
  1. 1.Kyoto University of Foreign StudiesKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Nagoya City UniversityNagoyaJapan
  3. 3.Forest Department SarawakKuchingMalaysia
  4. 4.Center for Southeast Asian StudiesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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