Most traders in markets around Ho Chi Minh City assert that they no longer sell Chinese potatoes, even though dozens of tons of the produce are still distributed to the city’s wholesale markets on a daily basis.
Chinese potatoes seemingly ‘disappeared’ from the markets citywide following the destruction of 26 tons of such produce by Da Lat authorities last weekend.
It has been discovered that several traders in the Central Highlands city, including Nguyen Thi Thu Nguyet, the owner of the destroyed products, have been dyeing the Chinese potatoes with red dirt to sell them under the disguise of a Da Lat specialty.
A small trader at Vo Thanh Trang market in Tan Binh District asserted when asked by Tuoi Tre that she only sells authentic Da Lat potatoes, which fetch VND30,000 per kilogram.
A vendor at Go Vap market also said there are no Chinese potatoes in her stock, while asserting that the difference can be told by the red dirt that covers the produce.
“Potatoes with red dirt are surely grown in Vietnam, how could China have such products?” she said.
In fact, Chinese potatoes still arrive in the city in large quantities every night.
Management officials at the Thu Duc agricultural product wholesale market said it received some 30 tons of Chinese potatoes on Sunday, and only 15 tons of the Da Lat produce.
Vy, a trader at Hoc Mon wholesale market, said the supply of Chinese potatoes to the market remains stable, adding that the produce costs only VND10,000 – 12,000 a kg.
The wholesale price of Da Lat potatoes, meanwhile, is around VND25,000 a kg, she said.
While the products origin is stated clearly at the wholesale markets, no one can be sure whether the traders at small markets across the city do the same when selling the produce to the end consumers.
“We do not know if the small traders honestly tell their customers if these are Chinese potatoes,” a wholesaler at Thu Duc market said.
Since the destroyed potatoes in Da Lat were also found containing excessive amounts of a toxic substance, the Plant Protection Agency said it will strengthen quality checks on the potatoes imported from China at the border gates.
Chinese potatoes were found with chlorpyrifos, a chemical used in pesticides, that is 16 times higher than the limit.
“Thirty percent of the next imported batches of Chinese potatoes will be tested instead of the current 10 percent rate,” head of the agency Nguyen Xuan Hong told Tuoi Tre on Monday.
“If similar results are found, we will run tests on 100 percent of the following batches,” he pressed.