DAVAO CITY — MS3 Agri-Ventures Corp., which makes halal chocolate and other products, is training its cacao suppliers and processors to meet halal standards Islamic food preparation.

Neil Q. Santillan, the company’s chief executive officer and director, said the company has organized the Davao City Chocolate Processors Association to ensure the protocols are efficiently transferred.

“Our association has different clusters and each cluster were taught how to properly ferment that is halal-compliant, para at least walang (so that at least there will be no) contamination,” he told BusinessWorld in an interview.

The group also financed facilities like solar dryers and fermentation boxes that will be used by the farmers.

Kailangan naming mag-produce ng halal na pagkain kasi kakaunti lang ang nag-produce ng halal na pagkain dito sa Pilipinas (We need to produce halal food because there are not many halal producers in the country),” he said.

He added that Muslim entrepreneurs have an “obligation” to introduce halal processes “from harvest to post-harvest to end-product.”

MS3 Agri-Ventures was established as a livelihood project for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) like Mr. Santillan, who used to be employed in Qatar.

Nagtayo kami ng (We set up the) livelihood project… as an investment of OFWs,” he said, noting that some partners are Catholics and from indigenous communities.

Nagkakaisa kami dito para makatulong sa mga (We are united here in helping the) farmers,” he said.

In July, MS3 Agri-Ventures signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Malaysian company that will market its products.

“I signed an agreement there na sila ang magtitinda sa halal na produkto na gagawin namin sa Pilipinas (That they will sell the halal products that we produce here in the Philippines),” he said.

The MoU also paves the way for a planned joint venture agreement with the Malaysian firm processing the ingredients and the finished product carrying the MS3 brand.

He added that members of the Malaysia Chamber of Commerce have visited the company’s factory in Bunawan, Davao City and some investors have offered to assist in ensuring halal compliance. — Maya M. Padillo