GENERAL SANTOS CITY  -- The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Region 12 seeks to start operation by early next year of its P75 million national halal laboratory in Koronadal City.

Dr. Zenaida Hadji Raof Laidan, DOST-12 regional director, said Wednesday the construction of the project’s final phase is ongoing and they are expecting its full completion by October.

She said the four-level facility, which sits in a one-hectare lot in Barangay Paraiso, Koronadal City, is the second in the region and considered as the largest in the country.

The halal laboratory is part of the P255.5-million Philippine National Halal Laboratory and Halal Science Center being developed by the DOST in the area.

The phased construction of the laboratory started in 2009 but its completion was delayed due funding problems.

“This is a robust infrastructure for halal and will become the Philippine halal center,” Laidan said in an interview over local television program Magandang Umaga South Central Mindanao.

The official said the laboratory will be equipped with “world-class and state-of-the-art” equipment and support facilities, which will include microbiological, pysico-chemical and metrological laboratories.

She said the facility will serve as a “one-stop-shop” for halal testing, certification and other related requirements.

In line with the construction of the laboratory, she said they have started the development of a “halal innovation center” in the region. 

Laidan said the initiative is aimed to facilitate the development of technologies for new halal food and non-food products.

Through the program, she said they help address the needs of the halal markets by training entrepreneurs on the production various new products.

These includes alternative halal food, beauty care and pharmaceutical products, she said.

“We also provide support through science and technology interventions, focusing on the the production of authentic or certified halal products,” she said.

In terms of halal certification, Laidan said DOST-12 was issued a permit or accreditation in June last year by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation-Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (OIC-SMIC) to adopt its unified global halal standards.

She said the permit has allowed the agency to certify halal products for markets in all Islamic countries.

Owing to this, Laidan they developed a Philippine halal center logo or seal of quality that adopted the OIC-SMIC standards.

She said DOST-12 has been using the seal to label products that have passed the testing and certification processes through their existing halal laboratory in Cotabato City.

She said the tests are conducted in partnership with the National Ulama Council and Muslim scientists and experts.

Halal is Arabic for “permissible” but is also largely referring to food that is allowed for consumption among Muslims.

Presently, the global halal market comprises 112 countries with an estimated population of 1.8 billion.(AVE/PNA)