DOST chief pushes development of halal industry

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/09 March) — Science and Technology Secretary Mario G. Montejo has committed to support initiatives to develop the country’s halal industry, starting in Mindanao, an official said.

Zenaida P. Hadji Raof Laidan, Department of Science and Technology – Region 12 director, revealed in a statement that Montejo voiced out his support to develop the halal industry during the recent meeting of the department’s regional directors.

“I recognize that halal is an important industry and I support it. We will make it a national program and we will start in Mindanao,” Laidan quoted the secretary as saying.

Montejo further said that there is a need to strengthen the halal industry in consonance with the National Science and Technology Innovation Plan.

Laidan said the secretary wanted the DOST-12 to continue its initiatives to make halal a stronger industry in the country.

“Secretary Montejo considers it important to support the development of the halal industry because it is rapidly growing due to the strong demand for halal-certified products especially in the foreign market,” she stressed.

In the last few years, Laidan said the DOST-12 has been working to develop the halal industry through its Philippine Science and Technology Program for the Development of the Halal Industry.

Laidan said it is important for the Philippines to establish the integrity and credibility of its halal industry given that the nation is a non-Muslim country.

“That we can do through science- and technology-based approaches alongside the religious requirement,” she noted.

So far, the DOST-12 operates a halal laboratory in Cotabato City. It is also building a larger state-of-the-art laboratory facility that shall be called the Philippine National Halal Laboratory and Science Center (PNHLSC) in Koronadal City, the seat of government of Region 12.

The center was conceptualized to become the clearinghouse of halal products coming in and out of the country.

Recently, the Regional Development Council 12 also endorsed the initiatives of the DOST-12 to develop the halal industry in Mindanao.

The highest development policy-making body passed a resolution endorsing the institutionalization of the PNHLSC.

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 estimated $600-billion global halal market. Halal is Arabic for “permitted” and refers to a food or non-food preparation method under Islamic law. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)