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Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Saudi trader offers to help Mindanao in halal market

DAVAO CITY, Philippines -- A Saudi businessman engaged in import and export of food products has pledged to help Mindanao poultry and meat industry players to resolve the long-standing problem on halal certification, Vicente Lao, chair of the Mindanao Business Council (MinBC), told reporters here Monday. Lao said that Shiek Faeyez Hamed Zainy, who owns the Abbar & Zainy Corp., also pledged to bring in halal process experts from Saudi Arabia in November who were also involved in the issuance of halal certificates in the oil-rich kingdom. "The said personalities are the ones who are issuing halal certification in KSA. If they approve the halal certification procedure in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Abbar & Zainy Corp. will buy halal products from there," Lao said. Lao said Zainy would talk with the Saudi ambassador in connection with his plan to bring the halal experts to the Philippines. Zainy also assured that the halal certification problem would be solved in three months, Lao added. Mindanao businessmen engaged in poultry and cattle processing have long been faced with the lack of a worldwide-accepted halal certification body in the Philippines. There were efforts in the past to tap the Brunei halal certification body so that they could crack the halal market, which is touted to be in the billions of dollar, but these failed to materialize. Member-countries of the East Asean Growth Area (EAGA) also tried to forge an agreement to help the Philippines get a worldwide-accepted halal process but Indonesia’s insistence to supply the feeds to animal growers in Mindanao led to a stand still. Lao said Zainy’s efforts in helping Mindanao animal growers resolve the halal certification problem could help boost the island’s poultry and meat industry. He said the absence of bird flu cases in Mindanao would also help the island’s poultry and meat industries to crack the Saudi halal market. Currently, Saudi sources its poultry products from Brazil and France to meet growing demands after bird flu cases hit Indonesia, Malaysia and other Asian countries. "This is a window of opportunity for Mindanao," Lao said. Halal, according to Wikipedia, is an Arabic term meaning "permissible." In the English language, it most frequently refers to food that is permissible according to Islamic law. In the Arabic language, it refers to anything that is permissible under Islam. - (BI, 18 Sep 07)

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