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Halal Industry
Africa’s battle to stay cool to reduce post-harvest losses and increase food security

In Africa, over 20% of the population faced hunger in 2021, while in Sub-Saharan Africa, post-harvest food losses are estimated at $4 billion annually, enough to feed at least 48 million people, according to the UN Environment Programme.


Addressing the 2.1 billion tonnes of global food loss and waste is a planetary problem but one that requires local solutions. In Africa, one of the key measures to reduce post-harvest food losses is the expansion of sustainable cold chains, suggests the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Cold chains are climate-controlled infrastructures helping to preserve edible products by maintaining a consistent ambient temperature.

“With Africa’s economy, driven by population growth, urbanisation and food security is expected to grow tenfold to $29 trillion by 2050; this presents a challenge and an opportunity” in accelerating the uptake of sustainable cold chain solutions in the agricultural sector, said Ziad Al Bawaliz to Salaam Gateway. Cold chains are climate-controlled infrastructures that help preserve edible products by maintaining a consistent ambient temperature.

Al Bawaliz is Danfoss’s regional president for Turkey, the Middle East and Africa. With over 40,000 employees worldwide, the Danish multinational company engineers energy-efficient technologies and delivers cold chain solutions through commercial and industrial refrigeration.

Danfoss is a founding industry partner at the Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold-Chain (ACES), located at the University of Rwanda. Through its office on the ACES campus, Danfoss supports students and technicians in their training needs.

“Refrigeration has been around for more than 100 years, and it’s an evolving industry,” Al Bawaliz said. “We can leapfrog the challenges developed nations face with CFCs and HCFCs.”

Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants are ozone-depleting. The use of these chemicals has been banned and is currently being phased out, following the Montreal Protocol of 1987.

ACES is a UNEP-led initiative established in 2020 by the governments of Rwanda and the United Kingdom. Its mission is to develop and accelerate the uptake of sustainable cold chain solutions in Africa's agriculture and health sectors.

“Besides dealing with a large number of small farmers, a lack of policies, investments, awareness and technical capabilities are the main challenges,” said Al Bawaliz about the difficulties of expanding refrigeration networks to prevent post-harvest losses.

According to Al Bawaliz, most small farmers cannot afford a cold chain infrastructure. What makes matters worse is that according to the World Investment Report 2022, foreign direct investments (FDI) in various sectors relevant to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially in food, agriculture, health and education, continued to fall in 2021. However, flows to Africa increased from $39 billion in 2020 to $83 billion in 2021.

“We need to have the right financial models to ensure the development of cold chain; the return on investment is viable,” he said, suggesting service-based models to avoid the upfront investment.

“The banks need to be part of the picture,” Al Bawaliz added.


Ziad Al Bawaliz (Regional President at Danfoss Turkey, Middle East & Africa), Andrea Voigt (Head of Public Affairs at Danfoss Climate Solutions), and students from Danfoss’ internship project Eyes and Ears in Africa: Yves Nezerwa, Parfait Niyonshuti and Natasha Mutangana (Courtesy: Danfoss).


The World Resource Institute also names insufficient energy access to power cold storage and poor road and railway networks as an issue to be tackled, in addition to Africa’s low adoption rates for innovations in managing post-harvest losses.

To shift these low adoption rates, the Nigerian entrepreneur and founder of the Smallholders Foundation, which informs on sustainable farming through a radio station, Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu, travelled across the country to speak to farmers to co-design such innovations and help scale up businesses.

The result is a ColdHub, a “plug and play” modular, solar-powered walk-in cold room for 24/7 off-grid storage and preservation of perishable foods.

“When you travel along Nigerian roads, it’s a typical picture of citrus and other high-quality fresh produce dumped on the roadside due to lack of storage,” Ikegwuonu said at an event organised by The Oxford Martin School, a research and policy unit based in the Social Sciences Division of the University of Oxford.

“I discovered that more than 45% of food is lost due to lack of cold storage at key points along the food supply chain,” Ikegwuonu added.

According to him, with just 10,000 metre cubed, Nigeria has one of the lowest cold storage capacities in Africa, mainly catering to the needs of the health sector and fish imports from Europe and Asia. Refrigeration, which he describes as critical infrastructure, doesn't exist in Nigeria's food aggregation centres.



“The power grids can’t deliver energy reliably, and the average farmers and wholesalers can’t afford most of the refrigeration equipment needed to provide large-scale cooling,” he said, confirming the challenges mentioned by the World Resources Institute and Danfoss’s Al Bawaliz.

Ikegwuonu founded ColdHubs in 2015, and besides designing and building 100% solar-powered cold rooms, the company also operates and maintains them.

Over 5,000 farmers, retailers and wholesalers are using Coldhub’s services, nearly doubling their income from about $60 per month to $100 to $120 by selling the food that usually was thrown away.

“The goal is to extend the shelf life of food from two days to more than 21 days by bringing refrigeration closer to farmers at farm gates, where they need it the most,” Ikegwuonu said about the 54 cold rooms the company is running at the moment.

For 2022, Ikegwuonu projects to grow to 100 such rooms.

“Moreover, we've saved more than 1 million kilogrammes of CO2 by using renewable energy exclusively in all our systems, with no need for diesel generators at all,” he said.

© SalaamGateway.com 2022. All Rights Reserved

Halal Industry
UAE dates exports jump fivefold in last decade as government continues to support farmers

The UAE exported $235 million worth of dates in 2020, with the fruit accounting for around 60% of the country’s agricultural produce.


Sharjah: Date production is booming in the UAE as government initiatives start to trickle down into profits for farmers.

The Al Dhaid Date Festival that took place in the UAE’s emirate of Sharjah in late July is the latest example of the support the government is giving to the food sector. The annual event brought together thousands of farmers, manufacturers, and distributors of agricultural equipment to facilitate deals and exchange of expertise.

“The government does not take fees from us whether for participation in public markets or in festivals,” Ibrahim Shakkah, a Sharjah-based date farmer who participated in the festival, told Salaam Gateway. “Some exhibitions charge us, but they are nominal fees, and this greatly supports us and allows us to showcase our products and compete in the market,” he said.

Shakkah supplies the local market but is working towards becoming a regional supplier. “This is my third time participating in the festival and it has helped me gain many customers; I now sell around 600 kilogrammes of dates per month,” he said.


Ibrahim Shakkah, a Sharjah-based date farmer (Heba Hashem).


More than 30,000 people visited the sixth edition of Al Dhaid Date Festival, which coincided with the UAE’s date harvesting season that peaks in August and September. The event included competitions for date farmers and awarded cash prizes totalling $272,000 to 145 winners. Some of the most sought after dates among the nearly 160 varieties grown in the country were on display and sold.

Abu Ahmed, a Sharjah-based date palm farmer who was participating for the first time, presented varieties such as the khalas, sukkari, khenaizi, fard, marzipan, sobo al-aroos, al-ambra, nagal, and gash rabie. “Everything was sold out because of its high quality. I sold more than five [metric] tonnes of dates last year and it was mostly through local marketing,” he said.

Commercialising the industry

As much as two-thirds of the UAE’s agricultural land is dedicated to cultivating date palms, and the fruit makes up around 60% of the country’s agricultural produce, according to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. In 2019, the UAE produced 341,246 metric tonnes of dates from an estimated 40 million date palm trees across the country, data from the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre showed. However, most of the date farms in the UAE are small family-run entities that were started about four decades ago as part of a social welfare programme designed to settle the Bedouin. Because of this, many of the date groves in the country are hobby farms and many farmers still grow dates in their backyards.

The government has already taken huge steps to commercialise date cultivation and help farmers increase their productivity and profitability. While Sharjah organises the Al Dhaid Date Festival and the three-month-long dates festival in Souq Al Jubail market, Abu Dhabi has been organising the Liwa Dates Festival for 18 years. The event recently concluded its latest edition, where prizes worth almost $2.2 million were given out to hundreds of winning farmers.

Abu Dhabi also organises the annual Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation as well as the International Date Palm Conference and Abu Dhabi Date Palm Exhibition. This month, yet another annual event – the Liwa Ajman Dates and Honey Festival – will take place on the western coast of the country.


Al Dhaid Date Festival coincided with the UAE’s date harvesting season (Heba Hashem).


Exports on the rise

However, the most transformational move for date farmers was the establishment of Al Foah in 2005 by the Abu Dhabi government. Now the world's largest dates processing company, it buys products from local independent farmers and markets them domestically and abroad. The company – recently merged into the government-backed food giant Agthia – processes 110,000 metric tonnes of dates every year and exports 90% of this amount.

Last month, Al Foah launched an online marketplace called eZad that will enable farmers to sell off excess produce at home and abroad, helping them deal with their unsold produce and ensuring they get paid quickly. More than 1,200 buyers have signed up on the electronic platform, while over 450 local farmers have registered their interest.

As a result of these efforts, the value of the UAE’s dates exports has multiplied almost fivefold over the last decade, reaching $235 million in 2020 from $48.1 million in 2010, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), which collates international trade data. The UAE now accounts for 12.3% of global dates exports, making the country the third-largest exporter of dates after Tunisia (15.5%) and Saudi Arabia (13.2%). India – the largest importer of dates in the world – was the top importer from the UAE, receiving 33.2% of the country’s dates in 2020, followed by Bangladesh (16.5%) and Morocco (13.7%), OEC data showed.

Agricultural constraints

While date farming in the UAE is a long-standing tradition that locals are proud of, the industry is gaining more importance given the role it plays in the pursuit of food security. As such, there is a growing focus on educating farmers on sustainable techniques that can improve the quality of their crops. At the same time, the UAE government continues to support local farmers, providing subsidies such as agricultural materials at half the price. But several constraints remain.

“One of the biggest challenges faced by farmers in the UAE are the high costs that they incur due to water resources being available in different amounts across the country,” Saeed Dalmouk Alkatbi, a member of the organizing committee at Al Dhaid Date Festival, told Salaam Gateway. “This is besides the problem of agricultural pests and the high cost of pesticides. These issues lead to a discrepancy in the quality and prices of dates from one region to the other within the UAE,” he said.

The government announced this year that it would address this problem by investing AED2.5 billion (almost $681,000) to extend additional water networks to agricultural farms for easy distribution of treated water.


Abu Ahmed, a Sharjah-based date farmer (Heba Hashem).


“We inherited palm cultivation from our fathers and grandfathers, and we learned many things from them about how to take care of the date palm,” said Abu Ahmed. “At first, we were using primitive methods for drying and storing dates, then we started adopting modern methods. We now use organic fertilisers to fertilise the palm and we try to combat pests from an early stage."

Alkatbi noted that the Al Dhaid Date Festival introduced farmers to several growing techniques that can increase crop yields, most importantly multiplication of seeds, vegetative propagation, and the use of tissue culture technique. The event also showed date farmers how to monitor the date palm periodically to avoid pests such as the red palm weevil. The highly destructive insect is so prevalent that the UAE is investing $1 million to develop genetic methods to control it.

“It’s no secret that there are big challenges in this field, as there are diseases which can strike the palms and negatively affect their production. We manage these problems through pesticides or primary prevention of infection,” said Shakkah. “At the end of the day, the date palm tree is like a child; when you care for it and nurture it, it will give you good yields."

© SalaamGateway.com 2022. All Rights Reserved

Halal Industry
UAE’s Pure Harvest considers a number of debt structures to expand to Asia

Pure Harvest Smart Farms’ breakthrough farming system has attracted a diverse mix of investors.


Dubai: Abu Dhabi-based Pure Harvest Smart Farms plans to raise funding through a new sukuk (Islamic bond) or conventional bond to support its food-security driven expansion plans, Tariq Sanad, the company’s chief financial officer, told Salaam Gateway.

The agritech firm’s breakthrough farming system that can produce year-round crops in the desert has attracted a diverse mix of investors since its inception in 2016.

“Our strategy is to grow 365 days a year because that is sustainable and serves the food security mandate. During the pandemic and the recent Ukraine-Russia conflict, we have seen that the food system is quite unstable and fragile,” said Sanad.

“These two events highlighted the importance of food security especially in the regions where we operate, which have harsh climates and a dependency on food imports,” he said.

Pure Harvest’s controlled environment agriculture (CEA) system features semi-automated greenhouses that optimise every aspect of the climate, including temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide.

With this technology, the UAE-based company can grow fruits and vegetables using one-seventh of the water used by traditional greenhouse-based farms.

The system represents a much-needed solution for the growing food security challenges worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as it can boost local production in places with restrictive environments.

“We’ve utilised everything we’ve learnt from R&D to ensure we can control the environment inside, which represents a Mediterranean climate that’s conducive to producing fruit and vegetables throughout the year,” said Sanad.

“We cannot continue relying on 80% of our food [in the UAE] coming from outside. We’re solving a problem that we’re seeing right now, way ahead of other regions.”

Starting off with tomatoes six years ago, today, Pure Harvest can now grow three subsets of crops. These include vine crops such as cucumbers, tomatoes, courgettes (zucchini), aubergine (eggplant), and capsicum peppers; all types of leafy greens; and berries.

“With the current pipeline in construction, we’re able to produce about 1,130 tonnes a month with all the facilities we will have in Kuwait, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia,” said Sanad.

“Our strategy is to provide locally for locals; it’s not about producing to export. However, we’re exporting our expertise in terms of our expansion globally.”

The company secured $180 million from global investors in June this year.

“We started with a small semi-commercial facility, in Nahel, Abu Dhabi, and we did all our R&D on it, then we expanded with our investments and raised a sukuk that was able to fund our growth in the UAE and into Saudi Arabia, where we built another six-hectare facility,” said Sanad.

“We’re replicating this now. We’re looking to go into Kuwait, and we’ve acquired another facility in the UAE which we look forward to retrofitting with our technology. We’re also expanding to southeast Asia.”

The latest funding brought the total amount raised by Pure Harvest to-date to $387.1 million. It follows the $50 million raised through sukuk financing last year, led by Dubai’s SHUAA Capital.

He noted that the success of the sukuk was linked to the company’s food security objectives and environmental, social and governance (ESG) elements as well as its location in the Middle East, which is home to a large Islamic financing base.

However, even conventional investors supported this funding. One of the key investors in the sukuk was American investment firm Franklin Templeton, which said at the time that the investment reflected its ESG and Sharia-compliant mandates.

"We are now looking to raise another source of non-dilutive capital, and a Sukuk would be one source we consider,” said Sanad.

"These are big investments as we have ambitious growth plans that we need to fund. We build glass and steel which from a cost-capital perspective are better to fund with non-dilutive debt, of which a sukuk could be a consideration."

As for southeast Asia, the company is eyeing expansion in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines.

“Even though southeast Asia is very green, it has a subtropical humid climate, so you won’t see the fruits and vegetables you would see everywhere else, and they have a high dependency on imports,” said Sanad.

“Key parts of our inputs [for the greenhouse food production systems] are electricity and carbon dioxide; therefore, being close to power plants has a massive advantage in the cost structure. We’re looking to collaborate with commercial partners to enable that and help us find the right infrastructure.”

Globally, the controlled environment agriculture market is projected to grow from around $74 billion in 2020 to more than $172 billion in 2025, according to US-based KD Market Insights.

In addition to hydroponic greenhouse farming, Pure Harvest is expanding into vertical farming, another form of CEA, through a collaboration with South Korea’s PlanTFarm, whose country is highly urbanised. “We learnt everything from the hardest point. We selected a country [the UAE] which has one of the harshest climates, not only high in temperature but also in humidity, which is a key factor you need to take into consideration as you build these facilities” said Sanad.

“If you’re going to create a solution, it should work in the worst possible scenario. That was the reason we started in the UAE, besides having a lot of support from the government. A big part of it was, if we could solve it here, we could solve it anywhere,” he concluded.

© SalaamGateway.com 2022. All Rights Reserved

Halal Industry
India has huge potential as halal meat export source

High quality meat sees growing exports to the Gulf States.


New Delhi: While 80% of India’s 1.4 billion people may be Hindu, the prominent position of Muslims in the country’s slaughtering and butchery sector means it has vast potential as a halal meat and meat products supplier to the Islamic world, say experts.

Only in slaughterhouses serving Sikh areas – there are more than 20 million Sikhs in India, mainly living in the Punjab – is non-halal slaughtering commonplace. The Sikh community prefers animals be slaughtered by the jhatka technique where the head is severed in one stroke by a sharp tool.

However, according to Aswhani Kumar Rajput, executive director of All India Poultry Breeders Association, only 5% of Indian animals and birds are slaughtered by this method with most of the rest being halal.

“There are some slaughterhouses where non-halal meat is also processed, mainly to supply the Sikh regiment of the Indian army. During that time normal halal production is stopped,” said Maulana Niaz Ahmed Farooqui, chief executive of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust, a major halal certifying agency based in the capital New Delhi.

Mohammad Yusuf Qureshi, Uttar Pradesh (UP) state president of All India Jamaat-ul-Quraish, a meat traders’ association, told Salaam Gateway: “All the slaughtermen, especially in UP, are Muslim and there is no doubt the meat will be halal.”

The UP towns of Unnao, Aligarh and Ghaziabad are the major slaughtering centres for buffalo meat, said Farooqui.

UP is India’s most populous state with more than 205 million people, 20% of whom are Muslim. It is also an important one for meat exports, housing nine of the country’s 12 meat processing plants approved by the central government’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

The other three are in west India’s Maharashtra and southern India’s Karnataka. In all there are about 3,600 slaughterhouses in the country, according to APEDA figures.

According to a central government survey, the majority of Indian Hindus eat meat and are not concerned if it is halal or not. Hence, the potential for exporting halal meat from India was significant and realised.


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Meat and offal exports grew 4.76% last financial year

According to figures released by Indian ministry of commerce and industry, in the financial year ending March 2022, the country exported $3.38 billion worth of meat and edible offal, 4.76% higher than the previous year.

The biggest destinations were majority Muslim Egypt ($740 million) and Malaysia ($445 million) as well as Vietnam ($488 million). Meanwhile, to wealthy Muslim markets such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, exports were $164 million and $159 million respectively, registering a year-on-year growth of 33% and 45%.

Other export markets were Oman ($44 million), Qatar ($31 million) and Kuwait and Bahrain ($25 million each).

The Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust, which Farooqui said is accredited by 13 countries including Saudi Arabia and UAE, provides 200 contracted halal supervisors to certified Indian slaughterhouses. They ensure the slaughtering knife is sharp; animals are not tortured; they are served water and the slaughtermen recite “Bismillah, Allah Hu Akbar” as they kill livestock.

Farooqui said using such supervisors was commonplace in Indian slaughterhouses that require halal certification (including exporters), with often at least two – and sometimes four – people on duty when slaughtering takes place.

India’s competitive advantage was not just its compliance with ritual. Farooqui said the quality of the country’s buffalo meat was the best; its taste good and it has high protein and low-fat content.

He emphasised Indian halal standards were strict and its certifying system highly organised.

India enjoys a major cost advantage over other exporters like Brazil and Australia in the buffalo segment as a significant proportion of the Indian meat comes from spent animals mainly reared for milk, said Rajput, also executive director of All India Poultry Breeders Association.

He said the same applied to Indian goats and sheep. These products experience high demand with two to three cargo planes departing Delhi Airport daily for the Gulf countries.

“Further butchering of these carcasses is done in the Gulf countries itself,” he said.

However, unfortunately Indian broiler chickens were raised exclusively for their meat. Brazil, as a major chicken exporter, has a lower cost of production meaning India does not export many chickens.

Regardless, the Indian meat industry is large

According to the last livestock census conducted by the central government’s department of animal husbandry and dairying in 2019, there were 110 million buffaloes, 74 million sheep, 149 million goats and 852 million poultry birds in India.

These quantities were significantly higher than the 2012 census. The number of cows also increased to 145 million but, as Hindus consider them holy, their slaughter and consumption is banned in most Indian states including UP.

The southern state of Kerala, with its significant Muslim and Christian populations, does allow cows to be slaughtered. As well as offering beef for local consumption – although not for exports, which cannot be made from India – this state’s strong meat sector also supplies many butchers and slaughterhouse workers (along with mainly Hindu neighbouring Tamil Nadu) to export-oriented slaughterhouses in UP. These are often contracted labourers and include many women, said Farooqui.

Slaughterhouse owners provide their workers with shared in-house accommodation, some of which consist of 50 to 100 residential quarters, and operate in two eight-hour shifts daily, said Qureshi, whose brother owns one such slaughterhouse in UP.

These southern slaughtering skills are in demand as UP businesses can struggle to hire local slaughterers with good hygiene practice, he said.

Quality matters in the export business and operations are scrutinised by teams from buyers’ companies making regular inspection visits; checking for dust, pests and even cats, said Qureshi.

“If there is any hair, fly or mosquito found in the meat, everything is rejected and wasted,” he said.

Combining such skills, with halal awareness and large volumes, the Indian meat sector is set to be a major meat supplier to the Muslim world for years to come.

© SalaamGateway.com 2022. All Rights Reserved

Halal Industry
Pharmaniaga’s new partnership will commercialise Malaysia’s first halal blood anticoagulant

Anticoagulants and cardiovascular treatments will be among the top five therapy areas in 2026 with each segment expecting $87 billion in global spending, forecasts the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Sciences.


Malaysia-based Pharmaniaga Berhad has entered into a memorandum of collaboration (MoC) with China’s Suzhou Ronnsi Pharma Co., Ltd (Ronnsi) to commercialise halal ovine (sheep) anticoagulant in Malaysia.

Founded in November 2012, Ronnsi focuses on complex drug development. Belonging to the anticoagulants class, their sheep-derived purified heparin and sheep enoxaparin sodium are used to prevent or treat blood vessel, heart and lung conditions.

Typically, manufacturers extract heparin and enoxaparin from porcine (pig) origins, making these products possibly unacceptable for patients practising the Islamic faith.

Pharmaniaga was established in 1994 and is one of Malaysia’s largest listed integrated pharmaceutical groups. The company is involved in various segments of the pharmaceutical value chain from research and development to manufacturing generic drugs, over-the-counter medicines and nutraceuticals, logistics and distribution, sales and marketing and retail pharmacies.

“Addressing the unmet demands for halal pharmaceuticals, halal ovine anticoagulant has a vast opportunity to grow, especially among Muslim populations and countries,” Pharmaniaga Group Managing Director Zulkarnain Md Eusope said in a press release commenting on the MoC’s commercial potential.

He added that from 2019 to 2021, the market value for anticoagulants experienced a 50% compound annual growth rate. The rise in COVID-19 cases boosted the demand; an issue also documented by researchers at the Medical University of Vienna.

That study found COVID-19 patients have an increased risk of thromboses and embolisms, such as strokes, pulmonary or myocardial infarctions and even deep vein thromboses.

“These complications during hospitalisation have a direct impact on the patients’ well-being and increases the risk of dying from COVID-19,” David Pereyra, one of the researchers, said.

Health professionals also use anticoagulants for invasive surgeries and preventive treatment for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. A medical journal reports that over the last 30 years, deaths from cardiovascular disease have almost doubled from 271 million in 1990 to 523 million in 2019.

The highest number of deaths occurred in densely populated countries such as China, India, Indonesia, Russia and the United States. Concerned about the possibility of product shortages caused by health, agricultural and economic factors, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages reintroducing heparin derived from sources other than porcine.

According to the FDA, bovine (cow lung) heparin was first approved in the US in 1939 and widely used for over 50 years. However, concerns about the possible introduction of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy agents (TSE or mad cow disease agents), saw manufacturers voluntarily remove bovine heparin from the US market in the late 1990s.

Now, recent comparative studies on clotting and anti-protease profiles on heparins of ovine, bovine and porcine origin reveal bovine heparins produce weaker anticoagulant effects compared to porcine and ovine.

While Ronnsi’s ovine anticoagulant is already halal-certified in Indonesia and Hong Kong, Pharmanagia will apply to the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) for halal certification.

The venture with Ronnsi positions Pharmaniaga as the exclusive registration holder, distributor and manufacturer in Malaysia, while the Chinese hold the patent and will develop the product. Pharmaniaga will present the relevant documents to the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency for approval as part of procuring the required raw materials and manufacturing the drug.

The healthcare specialist expects the registration process to be completed by 2024.



Set for growth

Following the late 2021 announcement to invest $14 million into a new halal insulin facility, expected to open in 2025, Pharmaniaga plans to fuel revenue growth by registering and supplying more of its currently approved 320 pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical products throughout South-east Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe with a particular focus on the United Kingdom and Turkey.

As a critical step in entering the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) market, in March Pharmaniaga signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the PRIME Healthcare Group, one of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) leading healthcare service providers, operating 15 medical centres, 15 pharmacies, multiple diagnostic centres and a multi-specialty hospital.

The MoU provides the framework that grants PRIME the exclusive rights to register, import, promote, market, sell and distribute Pharmaniaga’s pharmaceutical products in the UAE.

“With the halal pharmaceutical market set to grow to $205 billion by 2024, we believe the partnership with PRIME will widen our market reach and contribute significantly to revenue,” Zulkarnain said at the MoU signing ceremony.

He added Dubai would be the base to expand Pharmaniaga products to other countries in the region, but pointed out the company required about three years to strengthen its business segments before realising significant yields from the expansion plans.

In 2021 the group posted its highest-ever profit after tax of $38.6 million (RM172 million), exceeding the comparative $5.8 million (RM26 million) more than sixfold. The improved bottom line came on the back of a 77% surge in revenue to $1.1 billion (RM4.8 billion) from $600 million (RM2.7 billion).

Zulkarnain credited the increase to the supply of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine to the Ministry of Health and the private sector coupled with higher contributions from its concession, non-concession and Indonesian operations.

The positive financial performance continued in the first quarter of 2022 with the group’s profit after tax and zakat comparatively growing 26.4% to $6.5 million (RM28.9 million) and revenue rising 21.3% to $216.1 million (RM962.2 million).

© SalaamGateway.com 2022. All Rights Reserved

Halal Industry
Newswrap: Halal industry

Bangladesh joins SMIIC to certify halal foods; Saudi Arabia allocates $2.5 billion for food security; Indonesia re-allows food imports from all of Japan; Iran seeks food security overseas; Beirut’s grain silos damaged two years after blast; Somalia in ‘grip of famine’.


Bangladesh joins SMIIC to certify halal foods

Bangladesh has become a member of the OIC’s Standards and Metrology Institure for Islamic Countries (SMIIC). The Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) will provide its services based on SMIIC standards for the export of food and non-food items to OIC countries, reported New Age Bangladesh. BSTI provides halal certification for food and processed food, livestock and fisheries, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and canned food.

Saudi Arabia allocates $2.5 billion for food security

Riyadh has allocated some $2.5 billion to support the inventories of wheat and barley and compensate importers, reported Al Sharq Al Awsat. The Saudi Food Security Committee made the move to address rising global food prices. The Saudi Grains Organization (SAGO) allocated $1.2 billion in its budget, while $1.1 billion of the Agricultural Development Fund's (ADF) budget is to be lent to the private sector to finance contracts. A further $213 million is to be provided in subsidies to breeders and producers. In other news, the Agriculture Ministry is to offer grants to bolster poultry production. The kingdom has raised poultry production from 45% in 2016, to 68% in 2022, with a target of 80% by 2025, according to the Saudi Press Agency and WATTPoultry.com.

Indonesia re-allows food imports from all of Japan

Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, Indonesia banned the import of Japanese food over contamination concerns. During a meeting in Tokyo between the leaders of Japan and Indonesia, the latter announced it would ease all restrictions, reported News Track Live. Indonesia had “required radiation-free certificates for imports of meat, vegetables and other food products from Miyagi, Yamagata and five other Japanese prefectures.”

Iran seeks food security overseas

Iran is struggling to ensure food security amid drought, climate change and a growing population. Out of the country’s 165 million hectares, an estimated 50 million is arable while just 18 million is used for farming, reported Middle East Eye. The Islamic Republic has also looked abroad to secure food, with Venezuela offering Iran 1 million hectares of land in July, while Russia has also reportedly offered 100,000 hectares. Iran needs to import some 8 million tonnes of wheat this year to offset shortfalls. MEE reported that the country produces 133 million tonnes of food a year, but had to import 28 million tonnes last year, primarily wheat and corn.

Beirut’s grain silos damaged two years after blast

Parts of Beirut’s grain silos collapsed on Sunday, just days ahead of the two-year anniversary of the deadly explosion that destroyed the port and killed 215 people in the Lebanese capital on 4 August 2020, reported Middle East Eye. The silos had a capacity of 100,000 kilogrammes but were seriously damaged in the explosion. Part of the facility had been able to store 3,000 tonnes of wheat and corn, but have not been able to be accessed over stability concerns. The port area has been evacuated.

Somalia in ‘grip of famine’

The President of Somalia, Hassan Shaykh Mohamud, has announced a state of famine in the East African country due to drought. Some seven million Somalis are at risk due to a shortage of food amid the country’s worst drought in 40 years. More than 15 million head of livestock, 28% of the country's total, have been impacted, and more than 2 million other animals have died, reported News 360.

Halal Industry
Newswrap: Halal industry

Malaysia’s HDC to bolster 50,000 SMEs in halal sector by 2030; Halal certification body to be established in Armenia; Save Foods expands into Morocco; Nigeria to host International Halal Seminar and Exhibition; Manchester to host Europe’s largest halal food festival.


Malaysia’s HDC to bolster 50,000 SMEs in halal sector by 2030

The Halal Development Corporation (HDC) announced plans to increase the number of SMEs in the halal sector to 50,000 by 2030, with an eye also on exports. Currently only 10,000 SMEs have halal certification through JAKIM, reported the New Straits Times.

"HDC realised that from the 10,000 companies with halal certification, less than 3,000 are capable of producing products for export purposes. The low number of halal certification ownership among entrepreneurs in Malaysia has made it tough for them to seize business opportunities abroad,” HDC's chief executive officer Hairol Ariffein Sahari is quoted as saying. "There are still some 190,000 non-certified halal SMEs in Malaysia and HDC has embarked on a mission to provide consultation services to help them submit their applications to Jakim. Our doors are open to companies to get the necessary advice before they go to submit their applications to JAKIM. HDC will assist them to ensure a smooth process," he told reporters here today.

Halal certification body to be established in Armenia

The International Centre for Standardization and Certification is expected to be established in Armenia to bolster exports, reported Armenpress. Russia’s ICSC HALAL is to be involved, being the largest certifier in Russia with partners in Belarus and Kazakhstan. “Certification will be provided for meat products, poultry, fish, milk, dairy products, bakery, confectionery, food additives, other food, healthcare and perfumes, cosmetics, tourism, spa services, hairdressing, fitness and taxi services,” said Aidar Gazizov, Director General ICSC HALAL.

Save Foods expands into Morocco

Save Foods, Inc., an Israeli agri-food tech company specialising in eco crop protection to reduce the use of pesticides, reduce food waste and ensure food safety, entered into a new partnership with Korair, that together with Accentis group, will introduce Save Foods’ treatments in Morocco, according to a press release. Morocco is a major exporter of fruits and vegetables worldwide, with an estimated 60% of its agricultural exports destined for the European Union (EU).

“Pesticide residues is one of the main challenges of global agricultural trade. From my experience as the CEO of Galilee Export, I can state that the European market is enforcing some of the world’s tightest regulations regarding the use of pesticides. Furthermore, many leading European retailers are demanding an even lower threshold than the official regulations. Moroccan fruits and vegetables sales to the EU set new records in 2020. That year Morocco exported to the €793 million kilogrammes of vegetables worth €972 million and 651 million kilogrammes of fruits worth €961 million. Using Save Foods’ treatments that reduce the use of pesticides will add Moroccan exporters another layer of confidence to enter the European gates,” said Dror Eigerman, Save Foods’ advisory board member.

Nigeria to host International Halal Seminar and Exhibition

Lagos is to host the International Halal Seminar and Exhibition. The two day event will be held on 8-9 August, facilitated by the Halal Certification Authority (HCA), reported Gatekeepers. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment of Nigeria, Otunba Niyi Adebayo and the Chairman, Sokoto State Zakat & Endowment Commission, Dr. Muhammad Lawal Maidoki will give key note speeches on the theme “Halal for All: Between Sustainability and Profitability.” There will also be speakers from International Institute for Halal Research for Halal Research and Training (INHART) and International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).

Manchester to host Europe’s largest halal food festival

Manchester, England will host Europe’s largest halal food festival on 27-28 August, reported ABNA. The event will host over 100 exhibitors and is being sponsored by charity Islamic Relief UK.

Halal Industry
Newswrap: Halal industry

One of the world’s largest hydroponic farms opens in Dubai; UAE to invest $2 billion in high-tech Indian food farms; UAE’s Agthia Group buys stake in Egypt’s Auf Group; Iran’s exports to Turkiye surge 192% in first quarter; Egypt’s food exports up 2% to $1.76 billion in 2022.


One of the world’s largest hydroponic farms opens in Dubai

One of the world’s largest hydroponic farms has opened in Dubai World Central, near the Al Maktoum International Airport, reported Gulf News. The Bustanica farm is part of a $40 million investment by

Emirates Crop One, a joint venture between Emirates Flight Catering and Crop One. The UAE daily reported that “the 330,000 square foot facility is geared to produce more than 1 million kg of high-quality leafy greens annually, while requiring 95% less water than conventional agriculture. At any point in time, the facility grows in excess of 1 million cultivars (plants), which will provide an output of 3,000 kg per day.”

UAE to invest $2 billion in high-tech Indian food farms

The UAE announced it will invest $2 billion to develop food parks in India to address food security in South Asia and the Middle East, reported Reuters. The investment was announced at the virtual summit attended by the leaders of the UAE, Israel, India and the USA – the I2U2 – with US President Joe Biden saying the move could "increase India's food yields in the region three-fold in just five years". Reuters reported that “the parks would bring farmers, processors and retailers together using advanced climate technology to minimise waste, conserve water and maximise crop yields, focusing at first on crops including potatoes, rice and onions.”

UAE’s Agthia Group buys stake in Egypt’s Auf Group

Abu Dhabi-based Agthia Group, a food and beverage companies, has approved a strategic acquisition of 60% of Auf Group, a specialised healthy snacks and coffee manufacturer and retailer in Egypt, according to a press release. Established in 2010, Auf Group processes, manufactures, retails and distributes a broad portfolio of products across Egypt including coffee, nuts, healthy snacks and other confectionery products sold under the ‘Abu Auf’ masterbrand. Agthia Group’s acquisition builds on last year’s acquisitions of GCC healthy snacks and food company, BMB Group, and the Al Foah dates business. The transaction will see Agthia acquire 60% of Auf Group, while Auf Group’s founders will retain a combined stake of 30% in the business and continue to lead the company with the full backing of Agthia’s regional footprint and operational support. Tanmiya Capital Ventures, an Egyptian private equity firm which invested in Auf Group in 2019, also remains a committed shareholder with a 10% stake.

Iran’s exports to Turkiye surge 192% in first quarter

The Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA) announced that that 3.07 million tonnes of non-oil goods, valued at $1.737 billion, were exported to neighbouring Turkiye in the first three months of the year, reported Post Online Media, an increase of 363% in weight and 192% in value compared to 2021. Bilateral trade reached 19.5 million tonnes of non-oil goods, valued at $11.4 billion in 2021. In total goods, Iran exported 15.7 million tonnes, valued at $6.1 billion, while Iran imported from Turkiye 3.7 million tonnes, valued at $5.3 billion.

Egypt’s food exports up 2% to $1.76 billion in 2022

Egypt’s food exports grew by 2% to $1.76 billion in the first five months of 2022, according to Food Export Council, reported Mubasher/Zawya. Arab countries accounted for $890 million, roughly 50% of export value, with Saudi Arabia the largest importer at $158 million, followed by the USA at $116 million and Sudan at $87 million. The European Union accounted for 20% of food exports, at $345 million, and “non-Arab African countries” at 7%, or $121 million. Exports to the UK were $32.9 million, up 14.5% on 2021.

Halal Industry
Vegetarianism and Islamophobia hinders halal growth in India

Balance not always the case where politics and emotions take hold.


New Delhi: India’s predominant vegetarianism, religious complexities and a recent spurt in Islamophobic politics has stalled the development of a halal segment in a food and drink sector serving a country of 1.38 billion people.

Despite having the world’s second-largest Muslim population of more than 210 million, according to the US-based Pew Research Centre, Indian food manufacturers do not generally display halal on any food labels, except meat.

“In India, non-Muslims are not aware of the true meaning of halal and associate it with meat,” Waseem Akhtar, halal coordinator and auditor at the Delhi-based Jamiat Ulama Halal Foundation told Salaam Gateway.

He said Hindus think if it is halal, there must be some non-vegetarian ingredient in it. This is a problem given 44% of the 1.1 billion Indian Hindus are vegetarian.

Furthermore, as packaged Indian food products must specify any meat content with a red and green dot system (red meaning non-vegetarian and green vegetarian), the Muslim population need not worry about any non-halal meat content in the vegetarian food, Zia Nomani, vice-president for operations at the Mumbai-based Halal Council of India, told Salaam Gateway.

He added major Indian fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturers use wholly vegetarian products, but halal consumers still need to read the ingredient lists to check if alcohol has been mixed into a product.

However, for many non-meat products, there was little difference between halal and vegetarian, said Nomani.

“Here, all the ice-creams are made by non-Muslims, but we Muslims consume them happily because we know there is no problematic ingredient. The situation is very different from countries such as Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan that lack such a strong vegetarian tradition, where one cannot be certain of non-vegetarian ingredients in FMCG products,” he added.

Yet, this might change as halal committees are formed in these countries to make their products acceptable in Arab export markets.


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Manufacturers must be aware of food sensitivities between Muslim and Hindu

On a different note, the often-tense domestic Hindu-Muslim relations mean the country’s leading food manufacturers must watch sensitivities in the majority Hindu population when considering adding halal labels to locally sold products.

“A client once used leftover halal-labelled packages from an export consignment in the Indian market and consumers protested,” said Sayeed Mohammad Imran, head of operations for halal certification agency Halal India, based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

It was not an isolated incident. In March the right-wing Hindu organisation Bajrang Dal in the southern state of Karnataka erected posters during a local festival asking Hindu vendors not to buy halal meat and called on people to eat only at Hindu restaurants.

Imran said this was clearly “part of a campaign to hurt the Muslim community, which comprises 7.8 million of the overall state population of 61 million”. In addition, anti-Muslim activists have launched social media campaigns on Twitter with hashtags such as #BoycottHalalProducts, calling on Indians to shun goods with halal certification.

A typically extreme post made on 15 June 2022 called halal certification “the Islamic jihad route to Islamisation of India”.

Tacit support for moderate versions of such views can also be found among leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In March the BJP’s national general secretary CT Ravi told reporters in Bengaluru (Bangalore): “When they (Muslims) think halal meat should be used, what is wrong in saying it should not be used?”

Imran said this was a new trend.

His organisation has been operating for 12 years and, for most of this time, such anti-halal messaging has not been a problem. However, lately he has even been receiving emails saying “Stop Halal”.

“We tend to ignore them and move forward,” he said, indicating the situation in south India was less hostile than in the north, as fewer southern Indians object to halal products.

His agency is a testimony to the growth in Indian halal, despite these problems. It has 60 employees serving 2,000 clients and issues 30 new halal certificates for food, beverages, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products every month.

He noted there are more non-Muslim manufacturers seeking certificates to export halal products than Muslims, while, among Indian Muslims, halal labels and certifications were gaining traction.

Sarhad Maniyar, a resource scholar, and operations manager at the Mumbai-based Association of Muslim Professionals, told Salaam Gateway: “As a Muslim, we prefer to use more and more halal products. Personally, non-alcoholic restaurants are more halal because I do not like to use a glass that has been previously used for beer or wine.”

She agreed that across the country the supply of halal products was restricted, but said local markets for halal-labelled lines were growing in areas with higher proportions of Muslims.

In Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), home to 8.6 million Muslims, the religious body Muttahida Majlis-e-Ulema introduced halal certification in 2020, but only for modern packaged meat products.

“All Muslim butchers (selling meat in individual shops) do correct slaughtering so there is no need to give certificates to them,” Nazeer Ahmad Qasmi, member of the newly formed J&K Halal Food Certification Board, said.

Board members check and certify the slaughtering system of meat production and processing companies for all their products sold in the J&K Indian union territory. Qasmi said consumers only buy from them when companies have their certificate.

Elsewhere, more informal halal monitoring can take place. In Mumbai, where 2.5 million Muslims live, many butchers slaughter chickens in front of their customers so they witness first-hand whether halal slaughtering takes place, said Maniyar.

She added basic honesty often also prevailed. Non-Muslim shopkeepers tell customers if their meat has not been slaughtered according to halal rules.

“I have never come across anyone who is purposely trying to deceive someone on halal,” she said.

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