GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/19 October) — Making the country’s halal products competitive in the multi-billion dollar global industry requires at least three measures, an official of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Southwestern Mindanao said.
Sani D. Macabalang, BFAR director for Region XII yesterday said the government cannot just ignore the “current malpractices of certain halal-certified local processing plants” and risk being edged out of a global market valued at $600 billion.
He said he has recommended to Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala a three-pronged approach to become competitive in the global halal market.
Macabalang, head of DA’s Halal Food Industry Development Committee (HFIDC), said there’s a need to harmonize the country’s halal protocols observed by the various government agencies, improve halal certification or accreditation, and build up capabilities of halal food inspectors.
He noted that the actual observations made by local and foreign participants of the International Halal Poultry Standards Training Workshop in Cagayan de Oro City last October 5 to 6 following their plant visit to a local poultry processing plant had put the country in bad light.
Halal protocols as taught in the training were not seen in the plant which manufactures so-called halal poultry chicken, the official said in a statement.
Gilbert Layase, director of the Bureau of Agricultural and Fisheries Product Standards, said the technical working group of the HFIDC recently agreed on the drafts for the Philippine National Standard on Halal Foods and the Code of Practices for Halal Poultry and Halal Large and Small Ruminants.
These will be presented to a public hearing to be attended by prominent Muslim scholars in Metro Manila next month, he said.
Macabalang said the country would not be able to compete globally unless these standards, which had been initially developed by the Department of Trade and Industry, are established.
He also called on the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, which has the mandate to accredit halal certifying bodies in the country, to convene these bodies and disseminate the standard accreditation protocols that must be practiced.
Halal can be food and non-food products permissible in Islam, the religion of the Muslims.
Zenaida P Laidan, director of the Department of Science and Technology in Central Mindanao, earlier noted that science and technology, vis-à-vis the religious aspect, is essential in developing credible Philippine halal products that would be acceptable in the global market.
Laidan said the DOST regional office is setting up a world-class halal scientific laboratory, the first of its kind in the country, in nearby Koronadal City in line with the efforts to improve the nation’s halal industry.
There are an estimated two billion Muslim consumers that make up the global halal market valued at not less than $600 billion, she said. (MindaNews)