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Geographical indication protection of “Tú Lệ” for sticky rice

On 29 December 2020, Director General of Intellectual Property Office of Viet Nam has issued Decision no. 4926/QĐ-SHTT on granting Geographical indication registration certificate no. 00100 for the famous “Tú Lệ” sticky rice. People’s Committee of Văn Chấn district is the organization in charge of managing this GI.

Tú Lệ is a commune situated in a 3,000-hectare large valley under the mountain ranges of Khau Phạ, Khau Song and Khau Thán. It is known for the alluring scenery of the Northwest, the special sticky rice, natural hot spring and sacred traditions of the Thái ethnics.

Mr. Hoàng Văn Túi, an elder in Phạ Dưới hamlet, Tú Lệ commune of Văn Chấn district told us an old tale on the origin of the sticky rice. Back then, the local people only grew rice, and if there were droughts or diseases that make growing rice difficult, they would have to venture into the woods to find food. New year came, a man had nothing to make offerings to his parents’ altar, so he cried to the heaven. Touched by his filial piety, “Then” (deity in ethnic tongue) told him to go to Khau Phạ - the Heaven Gate, the “faerie” would give him good seeds of rice that would guarantee bountiful crop. Following the instruction, the man went upstream to Khau Phạ, and by afternoon he saw a patch of rice growing by the stream. However, the grains were mostly eaten by rodents and birds, only a few remained.  He brought the grains back to plant all over the Northwest, but nowhere produced such yield as told by the deity. The seeds mostly resulted in underdeveloped plants, while some did not sprout at all. When he reached Khau Phạ pass, he stopped by Nậm Lùng stream to get water. Realising the water are clean, surrounded by a fertile valley, he decided to stay and created a rice farm there. The “faerie” rice flourished, and the rice ears exuded a pure fragrance. When the rice was ripe and milled, the grains were large, purely white and had alluring fragrance. The variety is then named ‘“Nếp tan lả” (“Khẩu Tan Chạu” in native tongue).

Keeping their ancestors’ cultural customs and traditions, the people of Tú Lệ consider “Nếp tan lả” rice as jewels bestowed upon them from the Jade Emperor. Every October, the Thái ethnics of Tú Lệ hold the New Rice ceremony to pay respect to the deity who entrusted them with the rice.

Tú Lệ rice field

Listed as one of the four grand valleys of Viet Nam’s Northwestern region, known for its beautiful scenery and pure air, Mường Lò rice field is ranked second after Mường Thanh of Điện Biên province, and above Mường Thanh of Lai Châu province and Mường Tấc of Sơn La province. Tú Lệ, situating in Mường Lò, is determined by many agricultural experts as one of the high quality rice production areas of Viet Nam. Tú Lệ rice field lies in an ancient land, slightly sloped, and covered by three mountain ranges of Khau Phạ, Khau Song and Khau Thán with the altitude of 630 metre to 900 metre. The annual average temperature is 21.9 oC, average temperature variance between night and day during rice budding is 8 oC to 8.3 oC, average monthly total hour of sunlight from rice budding to ripe is 420 hours, annual average humidity is 84%. The geographical area has the water supply from Ngòi Hút, Nậm Lung streams and smaller streams of Huổi Lại, Huổi Sán, Bản Mạ, Huổi Tông, Nậm Ban. Therefore, the water supplies nutritious alluvium, and also the water temperature is lower than normal.

   Ngòi Hút and Nậm Lung stream intersection at Tú Lệ rice field

The pedography of the geographical area consists of stream alluvium, Dystric Gleysols and transformed Oxisols. The fine grain and nutrition contents of the soil are fairly high. pHKCL content is at 3,98% to 5,08%, total N content í at 0.07% to 0.2%, organic matter (OM) content is at 0.94% to 3.42%, hàm lượng P2O5 tổng số content is at 0.08% to 0.30%, total K2O content is at 0.52% to 1.81%, soluble P2O5 content is at 6.50 mg/100g to 126.00 mg/100g, soluble K2O content is at 8.72 mg/100g to 27.83 mg/100g. Comparing to other areas, the content of soluble K2O  and soluble P2O5 of rice farming soil in Tú Lệ are higher. Therefore, the quality of Tú Lệ sticky rice is different than those of other areas.

Tú Lệ sticky rice is a agricultural product of the Thái ethnics, the essence of this place’s nature and people. Tú Lệ sticky rice is slightly shiny, has milky white colour, the grains are thin, long, firm, consistent and mostly broken-free.. The rice has strong aroma, the gelatinisation temperature is at 70,0 oC to 74,0 oC, Amylose content of Tú Lệ sticky rice is high at 1.30% to 2.71%, Protein content is at 6.94%  to 7.61%, carbohydrate content is at 72.95% to 74.37%

     Tú Lệ sticky rice                                         Cooked Tú Lệ sticky rice

Tú Lệ sticky rice when cooked will have strong aroma and sweet taste. The rice is highly soft and chewy but not sticky when held in hand. Thanks to these peculiarity, Tú Lệ aromatic sticky rice has become the god-given specialty unsurpassed by other areas’ and a pride of Tú Lệ locals. Its reputation becomes widespread and favoured by consumers.

Geographical area: Tú Lệ commune, Văn Chấn district, Yên Bái province.

 

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