By Julio P. Yap Jr.

In response to the increasing demand for halal food products both locally and internationally, the Farms and Industry Encounters through the Science and Technology Agenda (FIESTA) on Halal Goat was recently held in Davao City.

The event aims to promote the products and protocols of halal goat which were developed from different research and development initiatives conducted by government agencies and various state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the country.

The Goat FIESTA was held at the University of Southeastern Philippines (USeP) Campus in Davao City.

According to Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora, Executive Director of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD), there has been an increasing demand for halal food, as prompted by the increase in Muslim population, which is projected to comprise about 26.4 percent of the world’s total population or 8.3 billion by 2030.

But the demand for halal products is not only motivatedby our Muslim brothers and sisters, as non-Muslims have already taken interest in these products, which should be safe, clean, and wholesome, as mandated under the Islamic law.

“Our country has indicated its readiness to join this lucrative market of halal products, with the creation of the Halal Board under the Philippines’ Halal Export Development and Promotion Act of 2016,” Ebora said.

He explained that “halal” is the Arabic word for lawful and permissible under the Islamic law, while “haram” is forbidden.

Halal also stands for safe, clean, and wholesome products that even non-Muslims can partake of.

Although not popular in the mainstream market, at least for now, goat is the popular choice when choosing the Qurbani or “sacrifice” during Islamic religious events such as Eid’l Fitr and Eid’l Adha.

Compared with cattle, buffalo, or sheep, which can also be offered as sacrifice, goat is a more affordable option, he explained.

“In the scientific perspective, goat is the perfect meat as it is a healthier alternative to chicken, beef, pork, and lamb. It has lower calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol but has high potassium and iron content,” Ebora said.

On the other hand, goat’s milk contains smaller, well-emulsified fat globules which make it easier to digest compared with cow’s milk.

“This information, among others, make goat embodies the essence of halal, which is safe, clean, and wholesome,” Ebora pointed out.

In terms of research and development (R&D), PCAARRD has already invested some P29 million for halal goat over the last nine years.

For 2019, PCAARRD has also approved and funded the R35-million program dubbed “Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (NICER)–The Halal Goat Science and Innovation Center,” which will be implemented until 2022.

During the event, Ebora likewise provided an overview of the accomplishments of PCAARRD during the past several years.

These include protocols on halal goat production, transport and marketing, slaughtering, chevon (goat meat) processing, and laboratory-based haram detection.

He said these protocols underscored the importance of identifying critical control points from production to post-production, where haram contamination occurs, and to correct practices of Muslim raisers, at the same time provide them a better share in the trade of halal goats.

The Halal Goat FIESTA was jointly implemented by PCAARRD’s five Consortia in the regions, which include: the Cotabato Agriculture, Aquatic and Resources Research and Development Consortium (CAARRDEC) in Region-12; Southern Mindanao Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development Consortium (SMAARRDEC) in Region-11; Central Luzon Agriculture, Aquatic and Resources Research and Development Consortium (CLAARRDEC) in Region-3; Cagayan Valley Agriculture, Aquatic and Resources Research and Development Consortium (CVAARRD) in Region-2; and the Ilocos Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development Consortium (ILAARRDEC) in Region-1.

The FIESTA featured a business forum where the technologies developed for halal goat were pitched to potential investors; a cooking demonstration conducted by the president of the Chef Logro’s Institute of Culinary and Kitchen Services (CLICKS) Pablo “Boy” Logro; a technology forum, and competitions highlighting the halal goat commodity, which included the goat jingle, bleating, forage identification, body weight estimation, and quiz bowl contests.

Meanwhile, FIESTA was conceptualized by the DOST-PCAARRD as a technology promotion and transfer platform aimed at promoting the products of science and technology (S&T) as competitive and profitable business ventures for the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources sector.

The application of protocols can minimize the problem of contamination, and authentic halal goat production infuses science and requires a thorough understanding of Islamic requirements.

However, there is still the need to harmonize local and international policies to be able to successfully participate in the halal trade.

If the identified issues can be successfully addressed, authentic halal goat and chevon-based products can finally be seen in the markets of Mindanao, and eventually, the country’s halal goat industry will have a stake in the international market.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s January 2020 issue.