OCOP PRODUCTS: Digitalization provides protection and trading promotion
Fake products or those having ambiguous origins or containing substances negatively affect human's health are currently a complicated issue both domestic and global. Therefore, traceability especially for prestigious commodities is becoming a common concern for countries.
* A great number of countries follow the trend
For over the last ten years, countries have paid great attention to this issue. In January 2005, product traceability became compulsory for all EU member states. Also during this time, Russia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Singapore, etc. required their imports be traceable. Until 2010, the national standard on e-traceability was announced in Thailand, where there is also a traceability portal, providing free access for its farmers. The US promulgated Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulating the traceability and keeping records for high-rish foods in Jannuary 2011. In Viet Nam, traceability stamps for products have popularly been used recently. Ministries have also issued some traceability-guiding documents. Consumers have been interested in this as well. At present, Ho Chi Minh city pioneered a traceability program for fruits, vegetables and pork. Ha Noi city, in 2018, implemented a scientific initiative called "certifying procedure for preventing fake products", using a QR code portal for managing, identifying and tracing the origin of safe agricultural products and foods. Many other provinces such as Ben Tre, Thua Thien Hue, Bac Ninh and Tien Giang are now making programs and plans to boost the traceability for their major products and specialties. In reality, however, this process faces many difficulties such as: traceability and using traceability stamps are just in some big markets, e.g. Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh city; the use of stamps isn't systematized and uniform in localities. There are even fake stamps and many consumers aren't accustomed to using mobile applications to trace the origin of a product. Quang Ngai province, as an example, has difficulties in product traceability though having hundreds of products granted intellectual property protection in forms of geographical indication, certified brand names, collective brand names. Regarding this issue, according to a leader of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, though facing some problems in reality, Tien Giang needs to boost its activities in terms of digitalization, product traceability, counterfeit prevention and product promotion, firstly for OCOP products using Blockchain, based on the present achievements in some localities, in order to catch up with the global and national trend that both the Government and ministries are paying great attention to.
* What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is understood as a decentralized database, storing information in blocks, interconnected by code and expanded through time. Each block contains information about the forming time and is linked to the previous one with a time code and transaction data. Blockchain is designed to prevent data change: once the data is accepted by the network, it can't be changed. This helps reduce risks, prevent fraud and bring transparency, which is, in the context of global commerce, suitable for making records of events, processing a transaction, proving an origin, and eliminating bad consequences resulted from changed data.
In Viet Nam, traceability, especially Blockchain-used traceability is quite new. Recently, only Ngoc Linh ginseng of Quang Nam province has a database of its production areas and traceable origin, using this technology quite effectively. According to Mr. Tran Hoang Nhat Nam - Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, implementing the directive of the provincial People's Committee, his Department collaborates with related agencies to do research and propose some activities regarding digitalization, product traceability, counterfeit prevention and promotion for OCOP products in 2 e-commerce exchanges using Blockchain called Sanocop.vn and Congocop.vn. He also explained that Sanocop.vn will help commercialize OCOP products, whose information can't be falsified, but is digitalized and appropriately managed. At the same time, this also supports their domestic trade and export done through Congocop.vn. Sanocop.vn is an integrated system of placing orders, and making direct contact to consumers, domestic trading mode (supermarket, market, etc.) and even export while Congocop.vn, a system built according to regulations and standards of Viet Nam on product traceability and connected to the National Portal, helps digitalize and protect OCOP products. This system also helps build transparency, prevent falsifying product information, create consumer's confidence and strengthen brand names of OCOP products and national brand names in domestic and international market.
* Support for prioritized products of 3-star or higher rank
The benefits of using this technology, according to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, are: each participating entity will be a legal owner of a product which has a blockchain account; information administration will be easy and convenient; relevant authorities easily manage the development and commercialization of OCOP products, therefore, have analytical data for providing timely support for those entities; the information of those products in Sanocop.vn will be linked to domestic and international portals for commerce and commercial promotion; the entities can assess financial investment packages and corporate development support packages both domestically and internationally such as support package for SMEs, development support program according to the Decree No 98/ND-CP, iTrust investment fund, support from the World Bank, etc. The Department will propose using the provincial budget for the National Target Program on Building Rural Areas of New Development Model to provide 1-time support/product for 3-5 star OCOP products to participate in Sanocop.vn and Congocop.vn (12-month user account, product code registration, data entry cost, and stamp for authentic product and traceability), based on the contract and relevant documentation between the product owners and consultancies.
2/3 of the provincial OCOP products have 3-star or higher rank. They are: Vinh Phat soursop tea of Travipha Co. Ltd, fresh Go Cong-native chicken meat of Go Cong Livestock Production and Fisheries Cooperative; VD 20 Go Cong rice of HK Commercial Co. Ltd; Nice cordycep militaris essence, White Bird's nest HT cordycep militaris, Thien An cordycep militaris of Thien An Cordycep Militaris Co. Ltd at Vinh Binh town, Go Cong Tay district; and especially, Ba Hai Diem Fermented Paste Maker of Aquatic Products has 4 products of 3-star or higher rank, namely fermented freshwater shrimp paste, pickled shrimp, fermented anchovy paste and fermented baby shrimp paste. They are proposed to be granted the above-mentioned support.
Translated by the Department of Foreign Affairs