GELANG PATAH: Johor plans to go big on halal food and agro-processing related activities as prospects for the halal food industry worldwide are good.
Talks are currently on-going between the state government, the Malaysian Agriculture Research Development Institute (Mardi), Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).
“Johor has the potential of becoming a major hub for e-halal food producers in the country as well as the region,” said Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin.
He said this during a press conference at the opening of the Guan Chong Bhd’s RM55mil industrial chocolates manufacturing facility at Port of Tanjung Pelepas here on Thursday.
Mohamed Khaled said Mardi, Irda and UTM would forward their recommendations to Johor on how the state could develop its halal food and agro-processing industry.
Asked whether there could be a dedica-ted halal industrial park including in Iskandar Malaysia, he said it was one of components that Johor could consider for the project.
“Food processing activities remain important to Johor although it is going for capital-intensive and high-technology investments,” said Mohamed Khaled.
He said the agro-based manufacturing activities contributed 16.5% from the total investment received by Johor last year adding that the activities created immense economic spillover effects.
Meanwhile, Irda chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim told StarMetro, the halal project would further reaffirm Johor’s position as the major food producer in the country, which the state had enjoyed in the past.
He said the halal hub plan was in tandem with the key economic areas that were being promoted in Iskandar Malaysia under the Comprehensive Development Plan, which runs from 2006-2025.
The sectors are electrical and electronics, petrochemical and oleochemical, food and agro-processing, logistics and related services, tourism, health, educational, financial services, and ICT and creative industry.
Ismail said the time was right for Johor to venture into halal food and agro-processing downstream activities by sourcing raw materials from other places.
He hoped that the Iskandar-based small and medium enterprises (SMEs) would be ready and prepared to participate once the halal project took off.
“The SMEs could play the supporting role to the bigger investors by providing related services as suppliers or raw materials to them,” added Ismail.
According to The Halal Journal, the global halal market value for trade in halal foods is estimated at US$547bil a year, and the market has drawn interest from food producer countries worldwide.