Products which claim to feature the ST25 rice strain which was crowned the World's Best Rice at a recent contest have flooded in the Vietnamese market.
Agricultural engineer Ho Quang Cua, (third from left) receives the prize of the World's Best Rice 2019
Premium fragrant rice ST25, the product of a group of experts led by agricultural engineer Ho Quang Cua from the southern province of Soc Trang, has been named as the best in the world for flavour this year. This is the first time Vietnam has won the competition’s top award.
According to agricultural engineer Ho Quang Cua, to date, rice ST25 has been provided to around 20 shops in HCM City for trial sale. However, in reality, hundreds of local shops are selling phony product at prices which are even higher the genuine variety.
Many shops even use the photos of the Vietnamese delegation being awarded the World's Best Rice title in the Philippines to attract customers.
To deal with the problem, Cua has temporarily halted the ST25 supply to the market while waiting for his company to finish the branding for the product.
Pham Huu Vinh, business manager of Tan Vuong Company in An Giang Province, said that his company had signed contracts to buy some rice varieties from Cua’s company, including ST24 which is sold under the label of Cat Tuong.
Lately, he said he had seen the online sale of fake rice ST25 bearing the Cat Tuong brand posted by a shop in HCM City’s District 10. Following his forceful complaint, the sale has been removed.
According to HCM City market management authorities, counterfeiting is becoming more complicated and the public and businesses need to play more of a role.
Meanwhile, Nguyen Van Sanh, acting head of Can Tho City’s Market Management Board, said that he had not yet heard of fake ST25 rice. Until now, his agency had not found any cases.
According to Nguyen Trung Kien, deputy chairman of Vietnam Food Association, his agency mainly focuses on rice export activities. Regarding the fake ST25 rice, he said that rice companies need to co-operate with authorities to tackle the problem urgently.
Economist Tran Huu Hiep added management agencies can use technologies to check the product origin as well as quality, so why do fake products still exist. He raised questions over the loose management over this.
Authorities have to strictly deal with fraud, including the sale of fake products, to protect customers’ rights and authentic producers, Hiep emphasised.
Professor Vo Tong Xuan, principal of Nam Can Tho University, suggested that producers need to give specific information to help people distinguish between fake and true ST25 rice.
Authorities of Soc Trang Province on Monday organised a meeting to hail the three-person team who bred and improved Vietnam’s ST25 rice.
The researchers are comprised of engineer Ho Quang Cua and experts namely Tran Tan Phuong and Nguyen Thi Thu Huong.
On behalf of the team, engineer Ho Quang Cua thanked provincial leaders for the support they had provided over the past 20 years to make the rice variety.
The Philippines and the Ivory Coast have outstripped China to become the two largest consumers of Vietnamese rice, according to figures released by the General Department of Vietnam Customs.
Vietnam is famous as one of the world's biggest rice exporters, but its export price is low.