DA intensifies bid for US2-trillion halal market

THE Department of Agriculture is set to finalize the country’s halal food standards to boost the competitiveness of Philippine agriculture and fisheries products in the halal world market, currently estimated at US$2.3 trillion.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that entering this huge lucrative market would considerably contribute in increasing Philippine food exports, and subsequently revitalize agri-fishery agribusiness enterprises that will greatly benefit Filipino farmers and fisherfolk.

Further, this will pave the way to the establishment of more world-class halal food production and processing enterprises that will create needed employment opportunities to thousands of our countrymen, Alcala added.

“I had instructed the Department of Agriculture’s Halal Food Industry Development Committee (HFIDC) chaired by BFAR 12 Regional Director Sani D. Macabalang to undertake a series of consultations with stakeholders nationwide so they could share in refining the proposed draft standards,” Alcala said.

The first leg was held January 24, 2011 at the Bureau of Plant Industry satellite office in Quezon City, where the HFIDC presented to halal industry stakeholders three draft standards, namely: ‘Halal Agriculture and Fishery Products,’ ‘Code of Halal Slaughtering Practices for Poultry’ and the ‘Code of Halal Slaughtering Practices for Large Ruminants.’  It was attended by about 50 Muslim scholars from Metro Manila and suburbs, and officials and representatives from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), partner agencies, and the private sector.

Three other consultations will be conducted in General Santos (February 16, 2011), Zamboanga City and Cebu City, both in March.

Macabalang said the three proposed standards include specific provisions for each food product group, and address issues on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

“The standards took into account the requirements set by regional and international bodies to ensure harmonization of the various provisions which are important in the recognition of the country’s halal export,” Macabalang said.

When finalized, the three Philippine halal code of standards will be presented to the ASEAN Technical Working Group on Halal Food and the World Halal Forum which will be held in April 2011 in Malaysia. Macabalang said that once the Philippine halal standards are approved and recognized by these bodies, the country could then easily gain access to the world halal market.

The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, Macabalang said, is tasked to accredit  halal-certifying entities in partnership with the DA and other government agencies,  the private sector, and  institutions,  as stipulated in Art 2(h) of RA 9997 s. 2009. The Commission is also tasked to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations of RA 9997, particularly the accreditation of certifying bodies, Macabalang said.

Halal is an Arabic word which means any object or action that is permissible to use or engage in accordance to Islamic law. Halal certification is not only for Muslim consumers but it means that the product has passed the international standards of the preparation and handling of a product.

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