The hard work that farmers expend on their fields is being undermined by fake fertilizers, pesticides and animal feed that they are lured into buying at cheaper prices.
Last month, the Dong Nghi International Veterinary Co. Ltd. (Invet) in Ho Chi Minh City launched a soluble ADE food product that supplies vitamins to stimulate fowls to lay eggs. The product label carried the same design as the one imported from the US for more than a decade and has become popular in the country.
The only difference in the design was Invet's label has a line with the producer's name written in Vietnamese.
The owner of a animal feed and veterinary medicine store in the Mekong Delta's Long An Province said, "We've been distributing the Soluble ADE imported from the US for more than 10 years. Then suddenly Invet came to introduce the very same product, saying it was made locally.
"I was concerned and have not sold it yet," said the distributor who did not want to be named.
The Invet product is offered at 90 percent less than the price of the imported one, and is accompanied with gifts given for purchase of large quantities.
The director of a company that imports Soluble ADE said some local makers have also faked the Soluble Vitamix product. "It confuses farmers and causes damage to genuine traders," said the director who wanted to be identified only as N.T.P.
He said the US producer, International Nutrition, is very angry and planning to file a lawsuit.
Farmers in the Mekong Delta's An Giang Province each spent more than VND5 million (US$262) the past winter-spring crop buying a spray to destroy the may-bug, but pest numbers actually increased and yield fell to just half of the previous year.
Local agriculture experts then tested the spray on more than 1,000 square meters of paddy fields and the may-bug population got larger after three days. The product sample has been sent to An Giang plant pathologists for testing. Its name has not been released.
In Binh Phuoc Province not far from Ho Chi Minh City, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development this year has found 32 fertilizer products violating regulations on quality. The department inspectors have fined some producers more than VND200 million in total, but they said many producers have refused to cooperate.
Nguyen Hac Thuy, vice chairman of Vietnam Fertilizer Association, said some cases of fake fertilizers were brought to court but "the punishment has gone nowhere."
Authorities decided to press charge against the Tan Truong Sinh Commerce Joint Stock Company in the northern province of Hai Duong but the case has been "under the mat" for more than a year.
"This is a painful reality for farmers, genuine producers and importers, but authorities have not managed to control it," Sinh said.
A decree that takes effect Wednesday, April 14 imposes cash fines of up to VND150 million on producers and traders of fake fertilizers.
Violations of VND30 million onwards can face criminal charges, according to the decree.