News From : DagangHalal.com (10 Sep 2008)
Muslims in Mindanao are aghast that non-Muslim countries are cornering the multi-billion world market for halal food products.
“The Philippines failed to cope with the demand of halal products in the world market”, said Ustadz Esmael Ebrahim, spokesman of the Muslim Mindanao Halal Certification Board Inc. (MMHCBI).
It’s a pity because Ebrahim is convinced that rich Muslim countries that largely depend on food imports would be happier if they get their supply from their fellow Muslims in Mindanao rather than non-Muslim countries.
“Thailand made it to becoming world’s number one exporter of halal products. It’s not even a Muslim country,” he said. Other non-Muslim countries that export halal food are Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand.
An Arabic term for “permissible,” halal refers to anything that is permissible under Islam. The religion forbids substances such as pork, blood, alcohol, and their by-products. Mostly healthy, halal foods have a big market among health buffs, too.
Recent dialogues of the MMHCBI with the Chamber of Agriculture, Fisheries and Allied Industries (CAFFINORMIN) and the Mindanao Development Council (Medco) resulted in two courses of action so that Mindanao can get a share of the multi-billion industry.
One, the CAFFINORMIN agreed to strengthen its poultry industry and expand production. It is set to ink a memorandum of agreement in October. (Poultry products are considered halal.)
Two, the MEDco will assist in organizing a workshop on the halal industry. “We urge the MEDCo to realize the workshop soon as this will give us (investors) the idea as to how much are we going to invest, and for us to take a closer look at the world’s halal players”, said Roger Navarro of CAFFINORMIN.
Exporting halal products is not as easy as regular goods, however. Islam imposes guidelines in slaughtering meat, for example.
“Right now, we really don’t have a production site for halal meat products”, Navarro said. This has been the major obstacle to local producers of halal food. Without an agency to certify that they followed the requirement of Islam, their products may not be accepted in the world market.
This problem is temporarily addressed by MMHCBI’s pact with Malaysia’s International Halal Integrity Alliance-which can certify local products in Mindanao. The real solution is to come up with a halal certification system in the Philippines, Navarro said.
By Carmela Fonbuena, Newsbreak, abs-cbnNEWS.com