A Halal Science and Technology (S&T) Knowledge Center for Southeast Asia in the Philippines will soon be established as a virtual center at UPLB with support from the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA). This will be hosted by the UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM).
The Halal S&T Knowledge Center is envisioned as a web-based one-stop, open-access regional hub for country-to-country and cross-country government-academe-industry exchanges of knowledge, research, and resources related to the growing Halal global market. This project also aims to show the interlinkage of One Health and Halal ecosystems in terms of food-borne zoonoses, food quality, and food safety issues.
SEARCA Director Dr. Glenn Gregorio, citing a report by Imarat Consultants, said countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, Indonesia, and China drive the Halal market forward. "In Southeast Asia, regional competition has stimulated the local and global markets for Halal products," Dr. Gregorio added.
According to SESAM Dean Dr. Rico Ancog, the first phase of the UPLB-SEARCA project is to establish the Halal research baselines and resource databases, and eventually link the Halal industry and One Health ecosystem as an emerging innovation for growth and development.
"As a unique value proposition, this initiative aims to combine Halal requirements with One Health concepts to afford a more integrative lens in looking into how livestock and ecosystems could be better managed in a more sustainable way," Dr. Ancog emphasized.
Meanwhile, an initial number of the project target partners in Mindanao have already been coordinated and consulted through a series of inception meetings. These included the regional government agencies and state universities and colleges, such as the Ministry of Science and Technology - Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; Department of Science and Technology Region XII (DOST XII) – Philippine National Halal Laboratory and Science Center; Sultan Kudarat State University; and the University of Southern Mindanao.
The project is also being coordinated with the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Board (PHEDPB) which is composed of various national government agencies, Halal certifying bodies, and Halal accreditation institutions.
More recently, the project team has also reached out to the UPLB key officials and relevant project implementers to discuss the potentials for interdisciplinary collaboration and action points for improved project implementation.
During the said UPLB courtesy and coordination meeting, Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension Dr. Merdelyn Lit expressed her idea and support for the creation of the UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Program on Halal S&T (UPLB IdSP on Halal S&T).
As agreed during the meeting, the creation of the proposed UPLB IdSP on Halal S&T is seen as vital in strengthening the establishment and operationalization of the virtual Halal S&T Knowledge Center. It can also be instrumental in the plans to institutionalize and to build a physical center of the virtual Halal S&T Knowledge Center in UPLB.
The meeting was also attended by Dr. Elpidio M. Agbisit Jr., dean of the College of Agriculture and Food Science; SESAM Dean Dr. Rico C. Ancog, Dr. Edna A. Aguilar, chair of the UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center on Food & Nutrition Security; Dr. Barbara L. Caoili; Dr. Consorcia E. Reano; Dr. Lotis E. Mopera; Dr. Virgilio T. Villancio; Dr. Rommel C. Sulabo; Dr. Normahitta P. Gordoncillo; Ms. Maria Angeli G. Maghuyop; Ms. Imelda M. Gesmundo; and Ms. Catherine E. Lee.Note: The writer, Dr. Yusuf Sucol, is from the UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management and serves as the project leader and UPLB’s focal person for the Virtual Halal S&T Knowledge Center. This is also a clarificatory article that intends to shed a clearer understanding and avoid confusion to an article published in The Manila Times on September 12, 2021 with a title that reads, "Halal center to be established in UPLB".