Agriculture is the largest sector of Pakistan’s economy. The farming industry contributes for 24% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and it is estimated that farm labour accounts for half of the country’s employed workforce. This is because Pakistan has extremely favourable agricultural conditions, with rich arable land and one of the largest water irrigation systems in the world. The country produces a wide spectrum of food supplies, including wheat, rice, fruit, vegetables and spices. Moreover, the country successfully farms livestock and animal husbandry makes up 50% of all agricultural output. With such favourable farming conditions, Pakistan is one of the top food supplies for its own population but also has emerged as an important player in food exportation.
As a predominantly Muslim country, it is a given that all meat products are halal in Pakistan. Halal refers to the meat that Muslim followers are allowed to eat according to the Islamic law in the Qur’an. This meat is prepared in a certain way, with proper respect to the animal and to Allah. However, many Muslim countries do not produce their own halal meat, relying on imports from non-Muslim countries like Australia, the US and China. Out of the 57 Muslim countries worldwide, only a handful are in the business of farming halal meat. Pakistan is one of these few countries and has become an important supplier of halal meat across the Middle-East.
As the Minister for Commerce, Makhdoom Amin Fahim stated at the first ever Halal Food Congress, Pakistan is in a position to claim a large chunk of the global halal market. They already produce 100% halal meat for the 180 million consumers in Pakistan itself and they have direct access to a huge market of 470 million halal consumers in the Middle-East, Afghanistan and central Asia. This is particularly significant for countries like the United Arab Emirates, which does not have favourable agricultural conditions because of extreme heat and a lack of arable soil. It is for this reason that Pakistani exports to the UAE have increased by US$500 million in recent years and with a good marketing strategy and brand establishment, this could increase further. Some packaging improvements have been suggested so that both food wholesaler and consumer can be sure that the food they are supplying and eating is definitely halal.
For Minister Fahim, this is a positive step towards increased halal trade between Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) countries as well as improving the standard of living across Muslim countries.
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Author – Adam has had a great deal of success writing for many different sources in differing industry sectors