Malaysia is all geared up to enter the multi-million ringgit international market for livestock and halal food. This is all the more so with export trading in these items being reactivated and registering a marked increase after the nation was declared free of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) since Sept 10 last year.
Director-General of Veterinary Services Datuk Dr Abd Aziz Jamaluddin said exports of live poultry and poultry products had risen by 4,997 metric tonnes (RM39.84 million) last year or nearly 70 per cent compared with 2006 or 150 per cent with 2005.
"Besides strengthening our existing export potential to countries like Singapore, Brunei and UAE, we are also in the process of penetrating other potential markets."
He said this after opening a seminar entitled "Enhancing Food Safety for Domestic and International Trade" organised by Department of Veterinary Services and Veterinary Association Malaysia in Subang yesterday.
He said Malaysia, which has a blueprint for halal food products, was in the process of implementing it with an aggressive move to capture new markets in the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
"We have the advantage of being an HPAI-free country and must capitalise on this opportunity to export our poultry and egg-based and non-poultry food products."
As for non-poultry products, he said Malaysia could import livestock such as cattle and goats from Avian flu-free countries such as Australia and export the processed beef and mutton products.
"There is a huge niche market to tap and the food manufacturing industry should seriously look into it."
He said the Veterinary Services Department is working closely with the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation to identify new markets.
Dr Abd Aziz said there was a shortage of veterinarians and authorities were looking into the short-term measure of employing foreigners.
Malaysia has only 2,000 veterinarians. About 400 are in government service.
KUALA LUMPUR, March 6, 2008 (News Agencies)