By Cheneen R. Capon, EdgeDavao
Underscoring the scarcity of necessary human resource for the development of the local halal industry, members of the academe are pushing for the development of curricula that includes offering a four-year course for halal development.
“It is an acknowledged fact that the local halal industry is not as developed as the 25-year halal industry of Malaysia. In our case, we should have an approach that will put emphasis on halal like development of curricular offering that is in coordination with more advanced countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Turkey,” University of Southern Mindanao (USM) director Dr. Francisco Gil Garcia said in yesterday’s press conference for the opening of the three-day BIMP-EAGA International Halal Congress: An Academe Perspective at The Apo View Hotel.
“It would be useless to develop local standards for the industry which are not parallel to the standards set by international Islamic organizations and countries,” Garcia added.
He said the USM will be proposing the offering of a four-year course on Bachelor of Science in halal science.
At present, the USM is the only higher education institution (HEI) that is offering a four-year course on halal development. It started offering a Bachelor of Arts in Islamic Studies major in halal management and food management last year with only 27 enrollees.
Garcia said the local industry cannot take off because of the lack of technical experts despite the the huge potential of Mindanao to become a major player in the US$2 trillion global halal industry.
Addressing the scarcity of human resource is the first step in developing the local halal industry, he said.
Garcia said included as one of the target outputs at the end of the three-day congress is a draft of a curriculum that will be submitted to the Commission on Higher Education for institutionalization.
He said a policy should be put in place to ensure the growth of the local industry which does not only focus on food products but also non-food products like pharmaceutical and cosmetics as well as systems and services.
Department of Science and Technology (DOST) 11 regional director Dr. Anthony C. Sales referred to the halal industry as an “ecosystem” which is not limited to production but also includes certification and marketing.
He said much as the religion aspect of the industry is already met because of the presence of the 10 percent Muslim population in Mindanao but the industry needs to meet the international standards by complying with the technical aspect of the industry.
Sales said part of the effort of the department is the establishment of more halal-testing laboratories in Mindanao which halal producers can have access to. At present, there are already two operational testing laboratories located in Cotabato City. One of the two is being managed by the DOST in the ARMM region.
“The DOST 11 is targeting to put up a testing laboratory in Davao City. This is very important because the city is one of the major producers of halal products in Mindanao,” Sales said.
He said the facility is expected to be operational before the end of the year.
Sales said DOST 11 will shell out P47 million for the procurement of necessary machinery and equipment for the testing laboratory.
Meanwhile, engineer Yasin Zülfikaro?lu, a specialist from the Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC) in Turkey, said Mindanao can still take part as a major player because the industry remains “unsaturated.”