Fake fertilisers flood market

September, 29/2016 - 01:00

Stricter punishments were essential to prevent fake and poor-quality fertilizers which were now rampant and alarming in Việt Nam.

Small, illicit fertiliser production plants dominate the market. -- thanhnien.vn
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – Fake and substandard fertilizers are alarmingly rampant in Việt Nam, experts said at a conference yesterday.

Corralling the rogue fertiliser market is a pressing concern for the Vietnamese government, in a country where the economy is significantly reliant on agricultural production; agriculture currently accounts for 20 per cent of economic growth.

Nguyễn Hạc Thúy, General Secretary of Việt Nam Fertiliser Association, said weak management of the fertiliser can be sourced to overlaps between ministries, lack of transparency and inadequate deterrence. These factors have wrought disorder from production to distribution. The prevalence of fake and poor-quality products has caused economic damages worth billions of dollars and upturned the livelihoods of farmers.

The association’s investigation found many fertilizer products labeled “53 per cent nutrient content” on its package--with actual nutrient content only at 3 per cent, Thúy said. He cited assessments of the Institute of Criminal Sciences, which also found that the nutrient content of some samples was only at 1,9 per cent, and the remaining was all limestone power.

“The quality of fake fertilisers are no different to natural land in many regions,” Thúy said.

He added that the association surveyed about 80 per cent of the provinces and cities and found that there were more than 800 fertiliser production plants across the country.

Thúy said that punishments for producing and trading fake and poor-quality fertilisers were not strong enough. He also questioned why many poor-quality fertilisers passed tests.

According to Đàm Thanh Thế, Standing Office Chief of the National Steering Committee for Combating Against Smuggling, Commercial Frauds and Counterfeit Goods, the sources of disorders in the fertiliser market are varied. He specifically pointed to management overlap between the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Industry and Trade and to a surplus of leniency toward offenders.

Nguyễn Huy Cường, Deputy Director of the Plantation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, pointed to another source of troubles. In the world, there were around 300 standard kinds of fertilisers. In Việt Nam, there are a whopping 7,000, causing confusion in differentiating genuine from fake products.

Cường also agreed that it is not effective that two ministries managed one product. Under the Government’s Decree 202/2013/NĐ-CP, inorganic fertiliser is under the management of industry and trade ministry while the agriculture ministry is in charge of managing organic fertiliser. This also caused difficulties for firms, Cường said.

Experts at the conference proposed that a single ministry should take charge of fertiliser management.

In addition, fertiliser regulations should be amended towards specifying local authorities’ accountability.

Additionally, punishments on violators must be sufficiently deterrent, experts said.

The association also urged checks to eliminate plants which did not meet requirements in order to reorganise the fertiliser market. – VNS


Small, illicit fertiliser production plants dominate market

Many illegal fertiliser plants continue to operate despite a Government decree in 2014 ordering the closure of all such facilities.

In early 2014 the Government issued the decree stipulating that all fertiliser plants must meet standards in terms of machinery, equipment, storage, laboratory, waste treatment system and fire prevention.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade gave existing plants two years to meet the requirements, but said it would only license units producing more than 10,000 tonnes a year, fearing small workshops could not ensure quality and would pollute the environment.

A few months later, it did a U-turn, saying it would license all units.

Most of the 1,000 units did not have standard workshops, human resources or technologies, but produced fertilisers since they were easy to make and fetched huge profits.

They only needed to rent an office and hire a salesperson and an accountant. They would buy raw materials and mix them using a formula, earning a profit of VNĐ500,000 (US$23) per tonne.

So far only around 400 have obtained licences, with the others still producing low-quality products without attracting any fines.

In HCM City’s Bình Chánh District for instance, there are 41 fertiliser workshops but only 17 are licensed. - VNS