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DOST-ARMM launches Halal-certified Food Innovation Center    

By Allan Mauro V. Marfal, DOST-STII

Local Halal food manufacturers, processors, and entrepreneurs based in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) now have the opportunity to develop their existing Halal food products. This is made possible by the establishment of the region's first Halal-certified Food Innovation Center (FIC) launched recently by the Department of Science and Technology-Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (DOST-ARMM) in Lamitan City, Basilan.

The ceremonial launching was held on 28 June 2018 at the City Gymnasium of Lamitan as part of the 1st ARMM Halal Summit.

With the presence of Halal-certified FIC in the city, entrepreneurs can have access to food experts and locally-developed technologies by the DOST.

Some of the equipment housed in Halal-certified FIC are spray dryer, water retort, vacuum fryer, freeze dryer, vacuum packaging machine, can sealer, and cabinet dryer.

According to DOST-ARMM Secretary Myra B. Mangkabung, the newly-established Halal FIC could bring various significant impacts to the province of Basilan as well as in the entire ARMM.

"One of the concerns of Halal food processors here in Basilan and other areas in ARMM is that they do not have facilities which are GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) compliant; thus, they cannot be approved by the FDA( Food and Drugs Administration)", said Sec. Mangkabung. "Our Halal-certified FIC and its equipment would address all of those issues."

Sec. Mangkabung said that the FIC would play an integral role to enhance the quality of all Halal food products in Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Sulu and compete with the products of our neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Brunei.

"With the FIC, it could make most of Halal food products in ARMM such as delicacies and condiments attractive in the world market. The locally-developed equipment at FIC like freeze dryer and spray dryer could help in maintaining the moisture content and shelf-life of our Halal products," said Sec.Mangkabung.

She added that Halal FIC in Lamitan City, Basilan will also open its door to the local students and professionals who would like to conduct research and develop Halal food products using various existing raw materials in the region. Currently, it is the third Halal-certified FIC in the country, following those established in Davao and Socsksargen.

First ARMM Halal Summit
The establishment of Halal FIC is a collaborative effort of the DOST-ARMM, DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute, Mindanao Autonomous College Foundation, Inc, Chamber Commerce for ARMM, and Local Government Unit of Lamitan City.

The launch is part of the 1st ARMM Halal Summit held on 28-29 June 2018 at the Lamitan City Gymnasium in Basilan. It carried the theme "Strengthening Halal Ecosystem in ARMM for Global Market: Creating Opportunities; Synchronizing Synergy."

Sec. Mangkabung said that the Halal Summit which had 650 participants from various sectors aims to increase the awareness on the FIC in Basilan and other areas in ARMM and help food entrepreneurs maximize the potential of Halal products.