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20 years spent to create ST fragrance rice variety

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 VietNamNet Bridge – On the threshold of the second Vietnam Rice Festival which took place in November 2011, the National Office for Intellectual Property (NOIP) granted the certificate to the “Soc Trang fragrance rice” trademark. The builder of the trademark is Ho Quang Cua, an engineer, Deputy Director of the Soc Trang provincial Department for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Seven steps to success
Cua said since 1991, he and his colleagues have undergone a long period to build up the trademark “Soc Trang fragrance rice”. According to Cua, the success has come after implementing seven steps 1) creating a new variety 2) choosing the name for the new variety 3) setting up a program to build up the trademark 4) organizing the production of rice seed 5) supporting the production 6) building up the material areas for enterprises and 7) organizing the cooperation among the state, scientists, farmers, enterprises.
Cua said that he planned to create a high quality fragrance rice for Vietnam in 1991, when he joined the research team of the Mekong Delta Rice Institute and had the opportunities to work with leading scientists such as Professor Vo Tong Xuan and Nguyen Van Luat.
“Thailand could export 1 million tons of fragrance rice every year in 1992-1997, earning one billion dollars. Why doesn’t Vietnam do that?” he questioned.
There were three principles Cua and his colleagues set up for their new rice variety. First, during the variation process, rice can produce high quality new varieties or can be used as the sources for further creation. Second, Vietnam’s fragrance rice needs to have high yield, unlike the ones in Thailand and India, people still develop low yield traditional varieties. Third, it is necessary to form up a team of researchers.
As such, seven fragrance parent seeds were created, which has created the set of ST varieties nowadays, from ST 1 to ST 20.
By 2009, nearly 25,000 tons of ST fragrance rice had been grown in Soc Trang province, while hundreds of thousands of hectares had been grown in other provinces of Mekong Delta. Besides the two crops a year, scientists also help farmers grow fragrance rice under the mode of rice-violet onion and rice-shrimp cultivation.
Tra Dien, a farmer in Tran De district of Soc Trang province, said that he has two ST5 crops a year and earns the profits of 150 million dong a year, which is double IR crops.
Monk Do Danh of the Lao Ven Pagoda said that over the last six years, since the day of cultivating ST 5, farmers have escaped from poverty, while a lot of them can buy combines.
Cua emphasized that the growing of fragrance rice on shrimp ponds can help stabilize the environment and help re-create life in the land, slowdown the land degradation.
Marching forward
To date, five enterprises have been granted the right to use Soc Trang fragrance rice trademark by the Soc Trang provincial department for agriculture and rural development, including Gentraco (Can Tho City), Soc Trang Food Company, Thanh Tin, Soc Trang High Quality Processing Company and My Xuyen seed and fragrance rice production workshop.
According to the Vietnam Food Association VFA, in 2011, Vietnam exported 7 million tons of rice, earning 3 billion dollars. This included 400,000 tons of fragrance rice, mostly Jasmine. VFA believes that Vietnam would export more than 500,000 tons of fragrance rice in 2012.
Cua said that in order to preserve the specialty fragrance rice, farmers need to use standardized seeds. He also stressed the need to build up big material growing areas to ensure the stable production.
ST 20 rice is now selling at supermarkets at 24,000 dong per kilo.

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