Halal given focus in regional S & T celebration

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 July) — The potentials of the country’s halal industry were given focus  Wednesday during the opening of the regional celebration of the science and technology week.

Dr. Zenaida P Laidan, regional director of the Department of Science and Technology, noted that science and technology are essential in developing credible Philippine halal products that would be acceptable in the global halal market.

Halal is Arabic for “permitted” and refers to a food or non-food preparation method under Islamic law.

The regional celebration, dubbed “Beyond Borders: Reaching New Heights Thru S & T,” is in line with the national celebration’s theme,  “Filipinonovation: The Way Forward.”

“The science and technology week aims to create public awareness on the vital contribution of science, technology and innovations, especially halal products with scientific and technological basis,” Laidan said.

She said the regional office will take bolder steps in promoting the halal industry as the agency’s contribution to peace efforts in Mindanao.

In response to President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III’s peace overtures with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Science and Technology Department will work to develop a “halal culture” to achieve lasting peace in the Southern Philippines, she said.

The regional office is setting up a world-class halal scientific laboratory, the first of its kind in the country, in nearby Koronadal City to  improve the nation’s halal industry,  Laidan said.

Fortunato T. dela Pena, DOST undersecretary for Science and Technology Services, expressed support to the development of the halal industry.

“The regional office has made significant achievements… in developing stronger local and international linkages and networks to implement the national halal program,” he  said.

Laidan cited the need to develop the country’s halal industry because of the lucrative global halal market.

Laidan said the laboratory would become a clearing house for halal products, not just in Region 12 (Southwestern Mindana) but also for the entire country, before they are released to domestic and global markets.

The country needs to develop halal products with integrity so they will be acceptable in the global market. This can be achieved through science and technology vis-a-vis the religious aspect, she said.

Mindanao, home to about four million Muslims or a fifth of its population, is projected to become the halal hub of the country due to its strategic location.

Its halal industry is not yet developed, but there are efforts among stakeholders to get a share of the $600-billion global halal market. (MindaNews)