'Brunei Halal' brand to support local efforts
By Fadhil Yunus, Azaraimy HH & Za'im Zaini

From an encouraging 72 exhibitors last year, this year's International Halal Expo (ihpexpo) 2007 saw an increase to 158 exhibitors, ranging from respected Halal players in neighbouring Malaysia to entrepreneurs coming from places as far as South Africa and the US.

Ihpexpo is an annual event, which started last year, aimed at bringing Brunei into the global Halal industry, thus contributing to the development of the growing and expanding industry.

The Acting Director of Agriculture, Hjh Normah Suria Hayati, in an interview said that this year's exposition has an encouraging number of participants, signalling recognition of the importance of this exposition by the world's leading Halal players.

In this year's event, Brunei Darussalam, through the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, with the collaboration of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Health, is embarking on "Brunei Halal" brand as a project to support Brunei's vision of a diversified, competitive and sustainable industry.

In her comments on the country's ambition for the "Brunei Halal" brand, Hjh Normah Suria Hayati said that 50 Australian delegates, including CEOs and MDs, have already expressed their interest in joining the Brunei Halal brand.

According to her, Brunei's reputation and strong Islamic credentials in the world is an asset to becoming a respected player in the global Halal industry and can offer a strong business partnership in a Halal business.

She said that the Islamic Religious Council is an important organisation providing Halal certification, as they do not have any commercial interest and are thus able to provide truthful, responsible and sincere endorsements.

"When we launched, 20 companies wanted to invest. We want to develop a Bruneian Halal brand, with proper accreditation and package it as a whole," she said. "We will use the current infrastructure of a company to market the brand, and introduce it into a number of markets around the world. In fact, a mayor from Shire, Australia, will help promote our brand."

Speaking on the nation's first Agro-Technology Park, Hjh Normah Suria Hayati confirmed that it would be in Kg Tungku, with an area of 263 hectares. "The initial development of 50 hectares can accommodate up to 50 companies when it is completed," she added. "This is where Australian companies can invest and be certified."

The Agro-Technology Park is expected to include a production centre, a research Halal science centre and a Halal food development centre

"The government will run the park at first, but it is hoped that private-sector companies will have a hand in the running, preferably internationally-recognised private sector companies," said Hjh Normah Suria Hayati.

The Agro-Technology Park is expected to be complete in 18 months. Meanwhile, a total of 18 Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) were signed on August 16 on the Brunei Pavilion of the Plenary Hall, ICC.

The Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) signed MOUs with shires/councils, food companies and other organisations, such as the Ararat Rural City Council, Baw Baw Shire, Hume City Council, Victoria and Mildura Rural City Council, Victoria, CEOs and mayors of the council. Signing on behalf of MIPR was Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Ahmid bin Haji Jaafar, Permanent Secretary of MIPR. MIPR also signed with Naturally Goods Product Pty Ltd, Beekeepers Choice Pty Ltd, Central Victorian Organic Network, Cornhills Pty Ltd and Environment. Gippsland Cheese, MQH Investment Pty Ltd, Popina (IVC) Pty Ltd, Radford & Son Pty Ltd, Simply Tomatoes Pty Ltd and Copad Egypte were included as well. Signing on behalf of MIPR was Pengiran Hjh Mariana Binti PDNLDR Pengiran Haji Abdul Momin.

The Department of Agriculture signed with Kangan Batman TAFE, Plenty Food Group and Sunraysia Mallee Economic Development Board, Mildura Rural City. Signing on behalf of MIPR & the Department of Agriculture was the Acting Director of the Agriculture Department, Hjh Normah Suria Hayati. - Borneo Bulletin (19th August 2007)