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Whispers wound maize prices

Update: February, 01/2013 - 10:03

 

The price of raw maize has dropped sharply in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta in recent days after rumours spread that the products were unsafe, leaving many growers facing losses.—VNA/VNS photo
HA NOI (VNS)— The price of raw maize has dropped sharply in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta in recent days after rumours spread that the products were unsafe, leaving many growers facing losses.

However, the Ministry of Health's Viet Nam Food Administration (VFA) announced on Tuesday that 100 per cent of maize grown in the delta that they had tested met food safety regulations.

Previously, some newspapers had reported that maize in some provinces in the delta including Dong Thap, Vinh Long and Tien Giang was planted with chemical substances originating from China, thus they were outside of safety and hygiene standards.

The tests were conducted on January 11 by the HCM City Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, following a request from the VFA.

The tests showed that raw maize in the provinces was safe. However, some boiled maize was mixed with nitrite in order to keep it in good condition while on sale. Nitrite was banned from being used in food processing as it is harmful to people's health.

But the test results came after many farmers had already bemoaned their losses as customers boycotted products.

"Most local farmers earn their living by planting maize, thus their lives are very difficult when maize prices tumble," Huynh Phuc Dien, a farmer in Dong Thap Province's Lap Vo District, said.

Nguyen Van Chinh, another farmer in Tra Vinh Province's Cau Ke District, said he lost VND5 million ($230) this season.

He added that he would have to switch to other crops to make a better living.

Deputy head of the Lap Vo Division of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Van To said that the district had about 300ha of maize.

"Farmers in the district have planted maize for many years and they have also received modern technology from agricultural experts to ensure productivity and quality," he said.

Meanwhile, director of the Dong Thap Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Duong Nghia Quoc told Nong thon ngay nay (Countryside Today) newspaper that every year the province harvested 5,000-6,000ha of maize, mostly from Lap Vo District.

When the untrue rumour circulated that eating maize could lead to cancer, about 290ha of maize in the province went unharvested. Even after the rumour was disproved, local farmers suffered losses of about VND10 billion ($476,190).

Quoc added that so far the province did not have any plans to give financial help to farmers. — VNS

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