‘Kingdom of Garlic’ faces challenges as prices fall hinh anh 1Garlic is harvested in the island district of Ly Son, off the coast of Quang Ngai province (Photo: VNA)

Quang Ngai (VNS/VNA) - The mass trade of imitation products and a lack of Geographical Indication (GI) are seen as major reasons behind falling prices for Ly Son garlic, the product known as the ‘King of Garlic.’

Vice Chairwoman of the People’s Committee of Ly Son district, the central province of Quang Ngai Pham Thi Huong said the market connection between the island and mainland remained poor.

She said one kilogramme of garlic on the island was now being sold for just 25,000 VND (1.1 USD) to 30,000 VND (1.3 USD), while more than 100 tonnes of garlic were in stock.

Typically, Ly Son garlic is priced at 60,000 VND (2.6 USD) for a fresh kilo or 150,000 VND (6.6 USD) for a dried kilo, but this year prices are much lower.

She said the price was the lowest seen in the past few decades – only half of the cost of production.

“Fake brands disguised as Ly Son garlic at stores on the mainland have impacted the price of the original product,” Hương said. “The district has been completing the procedure for GI recognition to stop imitation garlic and associated price decreases.”

“Some companies and dealers have voluntarily agreed to buy garlic at 40,000 VND (1.8 USD) per kilo to support local farmers,” Huong said.

She said garlic in the district saw a bumper harvest, producing 2,700 tonnes – a 104 percent growth.

Garlic could be in stock for nine months, so the surplus had forced the price down, she said.

Farmers in the district had gathered to form a cooperative for better management and sales, she said.

Nguyen Van Dinh, Vice Chairman of the cooperative said he, along with other local farmers, had been working on an organic garlic farm to create stable prices around 90,000 VND (nearly 4 USD) per kilo.

He said the deal between businesses and local farmers would stabilise the garlic market and improve quality.

Dinh said the Ly Son garlic brand must be protected by adding QR codes on the packaging and GI recognition to help buyers recognise the original brand.

Last year, the island district asked I Am V, a company from HCM City, to dismantle banners that falsely advertised ‘Ly Son garlic products’ on the Shark tank Vietnam TV show.

Many shops and traders have used the Ly Son trademark without permission, according to the Quang Ngai provincial Department of Trade and Industry.

Some farmers transported their garlic plants harvested in a district in the province of Khanh Hoa to sell on Ly Son Island. Tourists and visitors are unable to recognise the original Ly Son garlic. Fake garlic was often packaged without any label or certificate of origin.

In 2007, the National Office of Intellectual Property of Vietnam under the Ministry of Science and Technology recognised the brand ownership of products from Ly Son Island including garlic, onions, seafood, garlic wine and seaweed for 50 households on the island.

Ly Son Island has been building a Geographical Indication (GI) for its products and more than 100 members of the Ly Son Garlic Association.

The island, known as the ’Kingdom of Garlic’ in Vietnam, has 21,000 inhabitants, of whom 73 percent make their living from farming garlic and spring onions or fishing.-VNS/VNA