National rice brand: Vietnam’s choice of jasmine rice controversial

by DDDN27 December 2015 Last updated at 15:27 PM

VTV.vn - While many countries in the world have reduced the cultivation of Jasmine rice, because it is difficult to grow and sell, the Vietnam Food Association (VFA) has decided that Jasmine will be the national rice brand for Vietnam.

The VFA’s choice to develop Jasmine as the nation’s rice brand has faced strong opposition from experts, businesses and state management agencies as well.

Some rice export companies in Mekong River Delta have joined forces with farmers to grow and export Jasmine rice, exports are below expectations.

In the 2014-2015 winter-spring crop, Tan Cuong Cooperative grew 1,000 hectares of Jasmine 85 rice under a contract signed with the Northern Food Corporation (Vinafood 1). Under the contract, the enterprise is in charge of providing seeds and commits to buy rice at the market prices.

However, the cooperation failed. Tan Cuong could not sell rice to Vinafood 1 and had to terminate the cooperation contract. The problem was that the rice could not satisfy the standards set before in the contract.

Experts warned that the demand for Jasmine rice in the world has shrunk. If Vietnam grows this variety of rice, it will find it difficult to sell the products.

Professor Vo Tong Xuan, the best known rice expert, said this variety of rice has been eliminated in many countries in the world.

In the US, Jasmine 85 appeared in 1989, but now imports 700,000 tons of Thai fragrant rice because consumers do not like Jasmine’s taste and fragrance.

In 1989, the US Agriculture Department decided to improve Jasmine and turn it into Jazzman which has the scent more similar to Thailand’s Hom mali.

Jazzman 2 is now sold in the US at $3.77 per kilo, while imports from Thailand $2.64-3.08 per kilo.

Xuan noted that foreign consumers only care about the quality of rice, while they do not care about the history and culture – the highlights in the national rice brand development project drawn up by VFA.

If Vietnam still decides to choose Jasmine as the nation’s rice brand, it will go against the world’s consumption tendency.

According to MARD, a national brand needs to be the representative of the nation, and it must be outstanding and sustainable.

Jasmine is a rice variety created by the Filipino IRRI, which is the result of the mix between IR262 high-yielding variety and Thai aromatic Khao Dawk Mali.

Jasmine 85 has a scent similar to Thai’s rice, but it gives low yield. Therefore, small merchants tend to mix Jasmine with high-yield varieties to have easier-to-grow and scented rice.


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