|Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien spoke to the press on the issue of acquiring ownership of rice varieties ST24, ST25|
Recently there were reports that Mr. Ho Quang Cua wishes to cede the ownership of rice varieties ST24, ST25 to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Can you tell us more about this?
With ST24, ST25 in terms of protection of ownership, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has a decision in 2018 – 2020, valid for protection over 20 years. The aspiration of Mr. Cua and the authors was to sell that right to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, but until now this has been unprecedented.
Mr. Cua’s wish is to use the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which means that the State can use it so that many businesses, organizations and individuals can use this variety, thereby helping ST24 and ST25 varieties have a larger area and yield for export.
MARD leaders have discussed using funds in the seed development program to buy back seed ownership. Specifically, the source of money is in the seed development program 2021 – 2025. If the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development buys it, this ministry assigns the Department of Crop Production (MARD) to own these varieties and manage them to ensure the productivity and quality of ST24, ST25.
From that good seed source, the owners will ensure the quality of the seed production areas for domestic consumption and export to major markets, including the US.
Currently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has not received an official document from Mr. Cua on this aspiration. If a written proposal is received from Mr. Cua, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will submit a report to the Government on this issue.
If the transfer is favorable, will the protection of these rice varieties be better implemented in the international market? And what is the commercial value for the authors in rice varieties ST24, ST25?
Although there is no precedent of transferring intellectual property rights from individuals to management agencies, the Law on Science and Technology 2013 and related documents, as well as the Law on Science and Technology Transfer and related documents, clearly affirm the responsibility and rights of the author. Specifically, the author will receive no less than 30% of the benefit value of the work and based on the funding for implementing the topic.
If the state management agency manages the seed, more agencies and organizations will be exploited and become more stable in quality and area.
Regarding protection in the market, it must be clear that Vietnam currently protects rice varieties while rice products ST24 and ST25 must comply with domestic and international laws.
The ST24 and ST25 rice cases show signs of being protected by foreign enterprises in the US, so the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has cooperated with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Science and Technology to work together to protect rice brands in the US. We, together with the collective of authors and enterprises Ho Quang Tri (son of Mr. Ho Quang Cua) and Pan Group, have sent dossiers to the US for protection.
One of the reasons leading to many Vietnamese agricultural products losing their brands in the international market is that enterprises are not interested in their trademark protection. What is your point of view?
Vietnam’s agricultural exports have characteristics of great value, but many types are exported to many different markets (196 countries and territories). When integrating into the international market, international law is not well understood by enterprises.
I don’t think any businesses are ignoring this, but the problem is that they lack information about international laws and conditions to protect products. If enterprises know how their products will have paths in each country’s markets and how they are protected, surely their consciousness and energy will come from production, processing and trade and product protection will be the same.
Not only rice ST24 and ST25, but many other Vietnamese agricultural products were also in the situation of losing their brand name and had to struggle in the process of “rediscovering their name” in the international market.
How should there be coordination among ministries and agencies in order to avoid repeating this problem?
Vietnam has been deeply integrated into the world market, but the understanding and application of international law, especially for agricultural products, is still limited. Here the right to protect the rice ST24, ST25 must be sponsored by the state, including the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Science and Technology.
We will also discuss how to effectively solve the problem of protecting brands of agricultural products around the world. In 2020, the export value of agricultural products is US$41.5 billion; this year is expected to be over US$42 billion.
In fact, Vietnam has many experiences to learn. Many businesses have experience in international lawsuits such as To Minh Vu enterprise, Minh Phu enterprise. They can hire law firms to sue or enter major distribution channels like Amazon and have geographical indications on products, it will be easier to sue to protect the intellectual property rights of the products.