Gulf News | 22 July 2008
By Cleofe Maceda, Staff Reporter
Dubai: The UAE is exploring opportunities in the Philippines to ensure the availability of certain food stocks in the country, an official said.
Agricultural attache for the Middle East Gil Herico said a memorandum of understanding between the two countries has recently been signed to find ways on how the Philippines can help the UAE ensure its food supply.
"Some officials here have already approached us to address their food security issue. I believe our country can help the UAE meet its food requirement. Other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain are also looking at the Philippines as the major source of their food basket," Herico told Gulf News.
Herico said the Philippines may be facing a rice shortage, but it can boost the UAE's stocks of certain other food products, such as bananas, pineapples, corn, vegetables and other farm and poultry items.
About 99 per cent of the bananas and pineapples sold in the UAE are already sourced from the Philippines, Herico said.
"Our poultry farms in Mindanao are getting hundreds of tonnes of orders from the UAE," he added.
The Philippines is now intensifying efforts to become a major player in the $500 billion (Dh1.84 trillion) global halal market, so the UAE can count on the Philippines as a reliable supplier of food products permissible under Sharia.
The Philippines' Department of Agriculture (DA) officials earlier called on industry partners to support a proposal to craft a new law creating a national agency that will exclusively focus on the halal industry in the Philippines.
Nando Kumar, corporate communications manager of LuLu Hypermarkets, said the UAE is an attractive market for ethnic food products, such as those imported from the Philippines, considering the growing number of Asian expatriates in the country.