“Father” of rice ST25: “I let go of the hardest”

The Hero of Labor, Mr. Ho Quang Cua spent half of his life researching, breeding, and developing the ST24 and ST25 rice varieties despite going through many difficult times. According to his sharing, the fact that top rice varieties are illegally registered leads to the loss of consumers’ credibility, causing a good achievement to be much less successful. The desire to hand over the ownership of these rice varieties to the Government is for better management. The “father” of the ST24, ST25 rice variety, said that he let go of the hardest for The PAN Group to take over, which is to register for trademark protection of these varieties of rice in foreign markets.

Talking to NDH.vn, Engineer, the Hero of Labor, Mr. Ho Quang Cua, the "father" of ST24, ST25 rice, and rice varieties said that the authorization for The PAN Group to register trademarks of ST24, ST25 rice in important foreign markets, along with handing over the intellectual property rights of rice varieties to the Government in order to improve capacity and enhance, protect, preserve and develop a Vietnamese agricultural product brand.

Ông Hồ Quang Cua.

Mr. Ho Quang Cua.  Photo: Dan Tri newspaper

- You have spent half of your life researching, breeding, developing, and marketing one of the best rice in the world, how can you maintain this enthusiasm despite many difficult times?

- My half-life's desire is to create nutritious and delicious rice for us to enjoy the crystallization of heaven and earth and compensate for the hard work of millions of farmers.

I hesitantly answer the question of why the Thai people can do it, but we can’t! However, I'm just an engineer. The vision of the society at the end of the twentieth century considered engineers only as practitioners who only applied results of others' work. Specifically, they just planted trees and raised fish ... So, I engaged in research, which was the job of the institute, the institution, which was considered as a joke by others. Meanwhile, I lacked most of what I needed, even at first the research view was ambiguous. At that time, I was like a nightwalker! Luckily, more than 20 years of hard work, and many times I almost went bankrupt, I have gained the trust and support of many people. Finally, last night was the brightest day of my life in Manila, Philippines!

When ST25 became famous, I thought that nearly hundreds of millions of people could enjoy ST25 rice with the right standards, the right quality. Thereby, we can feel that the pride of Vietnamese people's diligent, creative hands have passed the journey of creating pearls in a situation of lack of everything.

- ST24, ST25 Rice is always in a state "out of stock", as the person who knows best about your products, can you explain this?

- There are also many people asking me which factors cause ST25 rice to become so popular during this time. I believe that Good wine needs no bush. ST25 rice, awarded the best rice in the world in 2019, is an accredited affirmation of quality. However, consumers' attitude is the deciding factor. At this time, the attitude of domestic and foreign consumers is very good. I described it for easy recognition. ST25 rice has two scents of pineapple and green rice, the taste which is delicious, soft, and not dry when being chilled down. It has better nutritional value compared to other types of rice on the market. This result is different from previously thought that it takes a long time to accumulate the desired properties and produce higher results.

At the same time, ST25 rice has a wide adaptive spectrum, disease resistance, salt tolerance, no photosensitivity, high yield and can be planted year-round. This factor is very important because consumers will have new rice all year round, different from fragrant rice in other countries.

- But have there been consumer complaints about the uneven quality of ST25 rice in the market?

- To have the best quality rice, it is necessary to have a standard rice seed and the production following the farming process - this is the result of many trials and perfection. Why ST25 rice quality is not uniform on the market, and many consumers have to find and buy ST25 rice from our family business?

The first reason was the scarcity of rice seed. To have standard rice seed, it is necessary to sow it under its own process. Taking advantage of the increasing demand of farmers, many people have used commercial ST25 rice to sell as seed rice. Although there is a selection of the best commercial rice, it is difficult to have standardized quality as rice seed. The farmers buy this rice at a cheaper price and are not instructed with the standard farming procedures.

Yield results of paddles growing from the commercial rice may still be good but the aroma and uniformity and some other factors cannot be the same as those from the seed. On the other hand, some people use ST25 rice to cultivate from conventional processes but label it as organic rice being grown on shrimp ponds to sell it at a high price. Those are some main reasons for the current consumer frustrations.

- The violation of the ownership of rice varieties has affected the prestige and trademark of the ST25 rice variety, so why don't you ask for the authorities’ support?

- The problem of violating the ownership of rice varieties is not a new story, it has lasted for a long time. Many good rice varieties fall into this situation for a long time, leading to a loss of reputation with consumers, making a good result less successful. The authorities are not indifferent to it, but they can’t do much due to the gaps in the existing laws and regulations. As a result, my time, which should have been focused on research and small business to have more money for research and my own life, now has to be spent to deal with the aforementioned situation.

Because I do not take actions against this case (although the results may not be as expected), my many years of research can become meaningless and some people can take full advantage of it. If the domestic consumers wonder whether there is not enough standard ST25 rice in the country for consumption, how we can build a reputation and strong brand in the foreign markets.

As a result, despite being aware that I have a responsibility to protect the trademark of ST24, ST25 rice on an international scale, but deep down I am worried about the closer, more practical, and vital issues which is the protection of my intellectual property rights of the ST25 rice which I can't at the present. This is the reason why I intend to transfer the ownership of this copyright to government agencies for better management.

Sản phẩm gạo ST24, ST25.

ST24, ST25 rice.

- So why did you and your family authorize The PAN Group for trademark registrations in overseas markets but not the others?

- I and my private enterprise Ho Quang Tri have no experience in foreign markets, lack of money and limited understanding, so the authority to The PAN Group to patent the ST24, ST25 rice varieties in the big markets is a must and must be done early to avoid additional annoyances, such as trademark disputes.

I have met Mr. Nguyen Duy Hung, Chairman of The PAN Group, and Ms. Nguyen Thi Tra My, General Director, several times. Thereby, I know that The PAN Group's leaders have clear views and directions and have a strong will in implementing their paths. Specifically, the PAN Group operated in the agricultural sector, having a quite complete and efficient integrated ecosystem. I feel that I have the same conception of The PAN Group's mission to join together to enhance the position of Vietnamese agriculture. Therefore, these are not entirely the economic cooperation and delegation, but this collaboration is for the Vietnamese brand, for the common interests of consumers, and the legitimate rights of the parties creating high-quality rice products. On the other hand, as far as I know, The PAN Group has the law division which is knowledgeable about this issue, and conducive to fast expediting the registration procedures.

- What benefits will you receive from the mention-above delegation?

- Obviously the immediate benefit is that I can let go of this problem which is difficult for me to handle, and The PAN Group will take care of it! As mentioned above, because this cooperation contributes to building and maintaining the Vietnamese brand name, the economic factors are not paid much attention and are not worth mentioning here.

- Finally, what is the expectation through these two events, sir?

- Authorizing The PAN Group to register the copyright of the ST24 and ST25 rice trademarks in all foreign markets as well as handing over the intellectual property rights of these rice varieties to Government agencies to improve the capacity and to enhance, protect, preserve and develop a trademark.  This can be a strong brand of the Vietnamese and is able to create an opportunity for consumers, especially domestic consumers, to enjoy a standard product, a good and proud achievement made by our Vietnamese hands and minds.

According to NDH