Government looks to become top producer of halal goods

Mustaqim Adamrah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

draft bill before on halal goods before the House of Representatives
could help Indonesia become one of the world’s leading producers of
halal food and beverages, the government says.

Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said Thursday the
Muslim-dominated country had the potential to become a leading supplier
of such products to the global market.

“We can become a leader in the world’s halal product market because the
majority of Indonesians are Muslims, so products marketed in Indonesia
should be halal,” he said at a hearing of the draft bill before members
of House Commission VIII on religion affairs, social affairs and
women’s empowerment.

Halal goods are those permissible under Islam.

“Moreover, we have abundant resources to produce halal goods,” he added.

The government has proposed the draft bill amid concerns that “very
few” products using the halal label are available on the domestic

Industry Minister Fahmi Idris said existing regulations allow for inconsistencies in halal certification.

“Therefore, we need a law that provides a guarantee on halal products
comprehensively, ranging from a product’s ingredients, its storage, the
production process, packing process, all the way to a product’s
distribution chain,” he said at the hearing.

Using fines and prison terms for noncompliance, the future law will also serve as a law enforcement tool, Fahmi said.

“Under this law, the minister will have the authority to declare a
product is not halal if the producer is found to have acted against the
law,” he added.

According to Indonesian Food and Beverage Producers Association
(Gapmmi) chairman Thomas Darmawan, there are currently 3,742 different
types of halal products, out of 2.5 million products marketed
domestically, including food, beverages and cosmestic products.

“That figure includes imported goods and products sold in restaurants,” he said during the hearing.

The Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) says 2,800 companies have obtained
halal certificates, including foreign firms, which account for 51
percent of the certificates requested. Of the foreign firms, 80 are
Chinese, the council said.

The council has also urged the government to regulate the halal zoning
system in modern retail markets to enable Muslim consumers to meet
their needs more easily.