National halal forum to draw up sector’s road map

GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Mindanao’s halal industry is intensifying
efforts to improve its chances to penetrate the multi-billion-dollar
global market.

Before the end of the month, the Department of Science and
Technology (DoST) office in Central Mindanao will hold in Manila a
forum geared towards charting a definite road map for the
still-undeveloped Philippine halal industry.

Zenaida P. HR Laidan, DoST regional director, said the two-day event
will gather global halal experts and local halal champions in the
government, academe and the business sector.

“The affair will serve as an ideal venue in deliberating a national
level platform for the future course of the Philippine halal industry,”
she said in an interview yesterday.

Dubbed the National Halal Forum 2009, the event is themed “Enhancing
Halal Science and Technology for Economic Growth and Social Equity.” It
will be held at the Shangri-la Hotel in Makati City on Nov. 23-24. Last
year, the first national halal summit was held in this city.

Halal covers food or non-food items prepared in Islam-prescribed
manner. Ms. Laidan said there are an estimated two billion Muslim
consumers abroad, but non-Muslims can also be tapped since Islam does
not bar them from consuming halal products. She estimated the global
halal market to be worth at least $600 billion.

Ms. Laidan, a Muslim scientist, said the forum is open to Muslims and
non-Muslims who want to enrich their knowledge of halal and be a part
of this lucrative industry. Foreign and local halal certifiers have
been invited to grace the event that also seeks to create market
linkages, she added.

Haja Sittie Mariam Abdul Latif, director of halal integrity at
Malaysia’s Halal Industry Development Corp., said in the first summit
last year that for the Philippines to penetrate the global market,
local industries must have the commitment to produce quality products.
“This can be achieved by going into training and be accredited by a
credible halal certifying body,” Ms. Latif had said.

Ms. Laidan said her agency hopes to help Central Mindanao become the
hub of the country’s halal sector by helping build a laboratory in the
region worth at least P50 million.

The National Halal Accreditation Board of the Philippines has been
pressing the country’s several local halal certifiers to register with
it in a bid to ensure that quality standards are kept. — R. S. Sarmiento