The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) have partnered to establish a Halal Science and Technology (S&T) and One Health Knowledge Center for Southeast Asia in the Philippines.
To be hosted by the UPLB School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM) with support from SEARCA, the Halal S&T and One Health Knowledge Center is envisaged to be a virtual one-stop, open-access regional hub for country-to-country and cross-country government-academe-industry exchanges of knowledge and resources related to the growing Halal and One Health global ecosystems.
“Halal is a growing and promising global market valued at USD 2.5 trillion in 2020, largely in the food industry,” said project leader Dr. Yusuf A. Sucol of UPLB-SESAM and the UPLB Climate and Disaster Risks Studies Center.
A veterinary doctor, Dr. Sucol is the UPLB focal person for Halal. He is also a SEARCA alumnus who completed his MS in Veterinary Medicine in 2004 under SEARCA scholarship.
SEARCA Director Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio said “in Southeast Asia, regional competition has stimulated the local and global markets for Halal products.”
Countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines, Indonesia, and China drive the Halal market forward, says a report by Imarat Consultants, a specialist consultancy that has a dedicated field of focus on the global Halal market. In terms of Halal promotion, Imarat Consultants named Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand as the leaders in Southeast Asia.
The first phase of the UPLB-SEARCA project is to conceptualize 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,” said Dr. Rico C. Ancog, UPLB-SESAM Dean.
“Part of creating the virtual knowledge center is to incorporate the concept of One Health into its mandate with the aim of demonstrating the interconnection of the Halal ecosystem and zoonoses amid the changes in climate and environment,” Dr. Ancog explained.
He added that the UPLB-SEARCA project will also build up the Halal resource database of Southeast Asian countries as well as form government-industry-academe partnerships and networks to support policy and regulation of Halal industries in the region.
“All these diverse but collective efforts are aligned with SEARCA’s strategic roadmap of Accelerating Transformation Through Agricultural Innovation (ATTAIN) that underpins emerging innovation for growth towards agricultural innovative, adaptive, resilient, and sustainable solutions for development at the local, national, regional and global scales,” Dr. Gregorio said.
EcoHealth/One Health applications to agricultural and rural development (ARD) is one of the seven ATTAIN priority areas.