DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE UNDERTAKING HALAL ADVOCACY IN ZAMBOANGA PENINSULA
The Halal Section of the Department of Agriculture Regional Office 9 has been actively advocating the Halal awareness to all walks of life in the region since 2014. The Halal Focal person of DA-R9, Madam Buduriya A. Parawan is one of the leading advocates, recently in the Peninsula, in partnership with other government agencies and the private sector.
Halal in the region is seemingly a new hope that has the potential to boost the income of the farmers, food manufacturers and even in the non-food sectors. The Zamboanga Peninsula is palpable surrounded with agricultural land and sea rich with fishes and aqua life. All these are the resources that apparently a big factor contributing to the success of Halal Industry in the region.
The Halal awareness advocacy reaching out to the people’s mind is focusing on how the different sectors are connected one another enable to come up with supply chain of Halal products. How the farmers, regardless of their religious affiliation, appreciate and apply the Philippines National standard on Halal in their farms. Thus from those farms the supply of Halal raw materials reach out to food manufacturers, restaurants and other business sectors that have the same interest.
For a year now, the Halal awareness activity in the region still needs continuity. Also the Halal section of DA-R9 on the stage of mapping which municipalities and provinces in the region that really has the potentials to serve as the Halal center or Hub besides the ZamboEcozone in Zamboanga city.
On September 2-3 the Dumingag and Tungawan municipalities’ mayors were showing their interest to learn more about Halal during the regional convergence meeting. The Dumingag municipality is the only Organic Municipality in the Philippines received award from the International community. By the full implementation of Halal in the country in 2016-2017 this municipality can be included as one of the strategic areas in the Philippines to set up a Halal Hub in the core of Zamboanga Peninsula.
Throughout the awareness advocacy the Halal team usually meets common problem such as, the using of Halal signage, lacking halal meat supply, less Halal certified carenderia or restaurant not to mention the non-food sector like Halal hotel, resort and services. The ongoing collaboration of different Halal stakeholders, especially the Halal certifier, would possibly cross those barriers. Nevertheless, for now the Halal advocates in the region has identified some approaches to enable the growth of Halal in the coming years.
Last September 16-17, Madam Parawan initiated a Halal Slaughtering and Butchering seminar for the meat vendors, meat manufacturers in Pagadian City. According to the DA Halal focal person, this initiative is a step to make the business sector in the city aware of the importance of Halal meat to the Muslims in particular. As a regional center, the city of Pagadian, should have a separate Halal meat market and restaurants for the benefit of the local and international Muslim tourist, madam Parawan pointed out.
In the near future, as all regions in Mindanao unified as one in the promotion of Halal the country would possibly reap the share of this trillion dollarsindustry. What is important now, some regions in Mindanao are slowly moving. The success of the Davao city in the creation of Halal ordinance would become an example to different municipalities and other cities to follow.
The DA Halal focal person, Madam Parawan, is looking forward that all stakeholders from National down to Regional Technical Working group are continuously supporting one another and addressing some challenges for the right momentum of Halal program in the country. There is a need for the DA – TWG to move forward and craft additional standards exclusively the Halal farming technology. This is to serve as guide for the farmers, halal certifiers and other sectors.
The one year long Halal advocacy initiated by the Halal Section-DA 9 will be continuously to happen in other parts of the Zamboanga Peninsula. This is to ensure that by the advent of Asean Integration the people in this part of the country are already aware, hence they become one of the great assets for the development of Halal in the Philippines.
With the newly approved bill 2831 authored by Senator Cynthia Villar et al entitled Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Board the Halal Industry in the Philippines will be moving at par with the rest of ASEAN countries in few years time.
Aliazer S. Abdurajim