The Changing Landscape Of Malaysia Farmlands

A Typical West Malaysia Countryside Scenery – Coconut Trees Amid Lush Green Vegetation

A sunny breezy afternoon with menacing clouds brewing, bringing with it heavy rain later in the day, typical afternoon countryside scene on the Malaysia west coast during the monsoon season. The coconut trees (a tree of a thousand uses) and the lush green vegetation completes the tropical scene setting perfectly. At a glance, the man-made structures look like homes. On closer inspection, one notes that the structures are rather simple cubic structures, without doors nor windows which a typical home would have. In addition, the structures’ walls are bare and not properly finished. Well, what they are is actually a row of newly built swiftlet farms, These structures are home to thousands of swiftlets which produces ‘birds nest’ when they home in to nest. For them to be arranged and constructed neatly in a row is rather unique and the first I have come cross, as most are individual isolated units.

‘Birds Nest’ is saliva secreted by swiftlets which they use to line their nests and are highly prized by the Chinese (esp. the womenfolk) for its health promoting and life/beauty rejuvenating properties although this has not not been conclusively and scientifically proven. With the escalation in demand, notably from the more and more affluent mainland Chinese, traditional ‘birds nest’ harvesting from nests found in caves just can’t cope with demand. This demand is now fulfilled by swiftlet farms, a very lucrative and highly profitable business venture that more and more folk are discovering and venturing into. Farmers have either set-up farms themselves or rent/lease out their land to investors to set-up theirs, with more and more sprouting up and dotting the countryside farmlands (and urban town area shoplots too!), changing its landscape, like the one here in the photo.

Today, the biggest exporters of ‘birds nest’ are Indonesia and Malaysia, their biggest market China and Hong Kong. Of course, the wild ‘birds nest’ from the caves are the best, more exotic and understandably a lot more expensive. The task of harvesting them is also a dangerous and precarious one. Many lifes have been lost. Read more about it here …

Fuji X-E2 with XF 18-55mm


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