An additional 500 lambs from Canada were successfully brought in to test out the new supply chain and the feasibility of Canada as an alternative import source for Korban animals.
Sheep and goats are sacrificed during the Islamic ritual of Korban, an important occasion observed by Muslims during Hari Raya Haji (the Festival of Sacrifice). When Australia introduced new regulations and tighter rules in March 2012 to ensure international standards of welfare for sheep exports, AVA worked swiftly and effectively with local and Australian stakeholders to ensure compliance with the new Export Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) imposed by Australia. As a result, Korban was smoothly conducted with the import of 2,000 sheep from Australia in September 2012.
2013: FACILITATING IMPORTS AND OPENING UP NEW SOURCES
This year, AVA effectively facilitated the import of 2,358 sheep from Australia for Korban, which was successfully held on 15 October 2013. In addition to the Australian imports, 500 lambs were brought in for the first time from Canada, to test out the new supply chain and the feasibility of Canada as an alternative import source for Korban animals.
Given the importance of Korban to the local Muslim community, it is important to build resilience in the supply of sheep and goats for the festival. The Inter-Agency Korban Review Committee, comprising officers from AVA, with MUIS (Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura or Islamic Religious Council of Singapore), and MCCY (Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth), was set up in December 2012 to explore several alternative sources.
Livestock may only be imported from AVA-approved countries or establishments, which have been assessed to be able to meet our standards for public health, food safety, as well as animal health and welfare. One of the key requirements is freedom from Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), as well as other major diseases of importance to public health and animal health, in the exporting country. Following AVA’s assessments and on-site inspections, Canada, the US, France, Ireland, and New Zealand were added to the list of approved countries for the import of Korban livestock.
About 2,000 sheep were imported from Australia for Korban this year.
ENSURING HIGH STANDARDS ARE MET
Besides looking for alternative sources, AVA has also actively engaged MUIS, participating mosques, Malay-Muslim organisations (MMO), and the importer of Korban livestock, to ensure traceability and animal welfare. A seminar was conducted for these stakeholders to share internationally aligned good techniques of handling sheep for special slaughter.
In addition, AVA conducted briefings for both AVA and MUIS inspectors to prepare them for effective on-site inspections. MUIS inspectors were deployed as part of AVA’s inspections at every ritual slaughtering session to ensure that a consistent level of animal welfare and food hygiene standards was adopted. Inspection was also conducted during the transport, holding, and slaughtering of Australian and Canadian sheep at all 23 AVA-approved venues.
Among these 23 venues, 18 had met the requirements of Australia’s ESCAS last year, and conducted Korban rites using Australian sheep in 2013. The remaining five AVA-approved venues undertook the ritual slaughtering of Canadian lambs. Although these five venues were not subjected to ESCAS audit, Korban operations at all venues adopted the same standard operating procedures. This ensured that all the animals used in Korban were treated in accordance with the OIE’s animal welfare standards, and that food hygiene standards were fully observed.