|Mainstreaming Halal Food Production for food security|
|Written by DA-AFIS|
|Monday, 03 March 2014 23:49|
The current effort of the national government to achieve food security, through innovative solutions or new strategies, is proving that we could enhance our overall capacity to produce our food commodities. For our need to be sufficient in staple food, we are promoting the production and consumption of alternative local staple food such as corn, cardaba, cassava, and sweet potato. This is to lessen our demand for rice, a step that would further raise agricultural productivity as the number of crops receiving support from the Department of Agriculture increases. And for that, the country is nearing the threshold of achieving rice sufficiency and even exportation as envisioned by DA Secretary Proceso J. Alcala.
The same is required with our livestock and poultry. To further stimulate productivity and gain wider market niches, we have to expand our perspective to harness emerging global opportunities for our producers. And one of these is the growing Global market for Halal foods, known to be worth 2.95 billion US Dollars for Meat alone, that other non-muslim countries such as Brazil, Thailand, Australia and Belgium have already successfully tapped.
For nearly a decade ago, our government has, recognized this opportunity. And a wide-ranging initiative had been undertaken at the national level as well as in ARMM, SocSarGen or Region XII and in regions IX and XI. In the 2004-2010 Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) crafted by NEDA, Mindanao was specifically cited as the part of the country where Halal Industry has all the ingredients required to realize our country’s Halal Food Basket. The plan further mentions the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, being the only region with Muslim identity, as the focal area for Halal development thrust.
Today, the time has come to put into action what had been conceived in recent years. In fact our very own Agriculture Secretary Alcala had issued directives to mainstream Halal Food Production into our national food production effort.
In recent years, necessary ground work for Halal Food production had taken place. The Philippine National Standard (PNS) for Halal Food, the code of Halal Slaughtering Practices and the protocol for Halal Certification had been generated by a group of national agencies such as the DTI, DA, and the OMA (now National Commission for Muslim Filipinos ). The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao had also developed its own Halal Food Industry Master Plan and Certification Body along with related measures undertaken by SOCSARGEN or Region 12 , Regions 9 and 11.
A number of Philippine food exporters can attest to the Halal market niches in the Middle East countries that await our producers and exporters. We cannot just watch while our neighbors’ Halal food industries move on to meet their local demands as well as those of the Global markets. Earlier efforts to export chicken met some difficulties owing to the stringent global Halal certification protocols.
The challenge to evolve a competitive Halal Production drive is for the Mindanao regions to respond to. Given that the bulk of the potential production areas are in Mindanao, we must call upon our Local Government Units to take on the challenge by mainstreaming production initiatives with the DA and other institutions.
Today, the Department of Agriculture, through the Bureau of Animal Industry the National Meat Inspection Service , the Livestock Devt Council , the Bureau of Agricultural Products Standards and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, have lined up the following Halal support projects: Halal Slaughterhouses, Halal Goat Production , Halal Organic Fertilizer , Halal Aquaculture and so forth. And these require strategic collaboration of stakeholders so that the Halal Food Industry could finally take off. We have a lot of catching up to do. And we should be confident that with increasing dynamism in the agricultural sector, Halal Food Industry in the country would not anymore be treated as an alien concept but a home-grown production drive forming part of our national food sufficiency effort. President Benigno S. Aguino III, gave a marching order during the Regional Devt. Council -12 meeting in General Santos City last April 14, 2011 and I quote: “Accelerate the efforts in making the establishment of Halal Industry a reality.”
Together, Muslim and Christian alike, we must value Halal Food not only for its economic potentials but also for the well-being it would generate to the Filipino people and for the religious harmony it entails. Halal calls for the stringiest food production protocols required by international food safety laws/regulations. And in many ways, it promotes our drive for organic food production as Halal prescribes the use of any ingredients particularly organic materials that maybe useful for human health. We have a lot to gain from Halal Food industry and, therefore, we must work together to move it forward.
Dr. Norodin A. Kuit DA-Halal Food Industry Development Program National Coordinator
|Last Updated on Monday, 03 March 2014 23:51|