Sơn La has around 12,300 hectares of plums, with an annual fresh fruit yield of approximately 90,000 tonnes. Sơn La plums are known for their distinctively tangy, sweet, crisp, and fragrant taste compared to the same type grown in other regions, making them a preferred choice among consumers. To meet the increasing demand of customers, the Nong Pieu Local Farm Produce Cooperative in Phieng Khoai commune, Yen Chau district has developed a new product called ruby plums.
Bui Phuong Thanh, Deputy Director of the cooperative, said ruby plum production follows a quite rigorous process, as it is not easy to win trust of customers due to the absence of specific evidence of the production process and product quality.
“Therefore, by joining the provincial OCOP rating in 2023, we hope that ruby plums will be recognised for its quality and brand, leading to an expansion in production scale and increased income for cooperative members and households involved in the cultivation," she stressed.
Also participating in the provincial OCOP rating this year, Dat Thuy One Member Limited Liability Company, located in Co Noi commune, Mai Son district has perfected the production process of dried longan and employed heat pump drying technology entirely powered by clean energy. In 2023, their dried longan was recognised as a four-star OCOP product.
Nguyen Thi Ngoc, a representative of Dat Thuy One Member Limited Liability Company, said through the OCOP programme, the company hopes to affirm the quality and brand of its products, and expand their market presence.
“We received advice and support improving the packaging, and were provided with opportunities to join trade fairs both at home and abroad to expand the market,” she added.
Sơn La boasts over 200 agriculturally advantageous products with high economic and commercial values, which would be developed into OCOP items. These are regionally endemic products, diverse in types, falling into the five main groups of food, beverages, herbs, souvenirs, and rural tourism services.
A common characteristic among cooperatives and businesses when building OCOP products is their proactive approach to changing production mindset and embracing scientific and technological innovations to raise product quality. They also focus on promoting and marketing products through digital platforms.
To enhance the quality of OCOP products, the province has intensified guidance on perfecting production process; upgrading workshops, machinery and equipment; designing labels and packaging; obtaining food safety certifications; declaring standards, quality, codes and barcodes, and affixing traceability labels to ensure compliance with regulations. The province has also established a network to connect production and business with brand building and development, as well as market expansion.
According to Duong Gia Dinh, deputy head of the provincial Coordination Office of the National Target Programme on New Rural Development, since 2023, Son La has implemented a set of criteria for the OCOP programme for 2021-2025. The new criteria have been adjusted and supplemented with some contents. For example, the evaluation and rating of products will now be conducted at the commune level rather than the district level as before. Additionally, district people's committees will recognise three-star OCOP products instead of provincial-level recognition, allowing localities to proactively select exemplary products, thus saving time and costs for stakeholders.
The innovation in the assessment and recognition of OCOP products has created more favourable conditions for stakeholders to build and develop OCOP items with local advantages and characteristics. As a result, the province currently has 151 OCOP products, including one rated five stars, 55 four stars, and 95 three stars.
By 2025, the province expects to have at least one OCOP product in each commune or ward. The province will continue to enhance the application of science and technology in management, and build models of small and medium-sized enterprises, and cooperatives producing OCOP items. The province will implement the registration for traceability of OCOP products on the provincial origin tracking system. Simultaneously, there will be reviews and orientations for the development of products based on their quality. The focus will be on developing existing products, and perfecting conditions to upgrade products from three to four stars, and from four to five stars to meet the increasingly high demand of the market./.