Farm Konekt, a Palawan-based agritech startup, is venturing into Brunei Darussalam to help improve market access for smallholder farmers. The move will also allow the Philippines to tap the sultanate's halal ecosystem.
In a post on its LinkedIn, Farm Konekt said it was expanding into Brunei to help accelerate the growth and development of local farmers. “Together, we are committed to creating a thriving ecosystem that enhances the agri-fishery sector and brings sustainable progress to local farmers and fisherfolks.”
Farm Konekt provides consultancy services, including data-driven insights and other tech-driven solutions, to enable smallholder farmers to make informed decisions on production and harvest.
Tapping into Brunei's halal ecosystem
According to the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), the startup's foray into Brunei is part of a project that received funding under the BIMP-EAGA–Korea Cooperation Fund (BKCF) during its second call for project proposals in 2022. The project was facilitated by MinDA.
"With the recent expansion, the project will include clustering of halal producers and distributors linked to Brunei Darussalam, who are seen to play a vital role in improving [the Philippines' halal standards]," said MinDa.
The Farm Konekt Agri-Tech Supply Chain Platform for BIMP-EAGA Markets will also capture Brunei's halal network in Indonesia and Malaysia, becoming the first consolidation and clustering platform for the BIMP-EAGA subregion, said MinDA.
Quoting Farm Konekt Founder and CEO John Gastanes, MinDA said the expansion will connect Brunei to the trade route between Palawan, Mindanao, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao via the sultanate's Muara Port.
Farm Konect is working with Brunei’s International Halal Trade Hub & Services (IHTHS Corporation) and Reefer Filipinas for the project. IHTHS Corporation is a private sector driven enterprise that facilitates global halal businesses in BIMP-EAGA. It envisions BIMP-EAGA as an international halal trade hub on Shariah-compliant value stream and trade services. Reefer Filipinas is a logistics company based in the Philippines.
Brunei Ambassador to the Philippines Megawati Manan will provide technical expertise and support on bilateral policies relevant to the project.
Opportunities in the global halal market
The global halal market is booming, as global Muslim spending is forecast to hit $2.8 trillion by 2025.
A 2022 report said global demand for halal food is on the rise, with ready-to-eat meals among the top growth areas.
The report said the rising demand for halal goods and services is credited to a large and growing Muslim population, increasing urge to adhere to Islamic ethical values relating to consumption, and a growing number of national strategies dedicated to halal product and service development.