Development opportunities for Phu Tuc Rice Wine

By DA NANG Today / DA NANG Today
May 31, 2023, 19:42 [GMT+7]

Da Nang’s Hoa Vang suburban district boasts stunning natural scenery and distinct indigenous culture. In particular, it must be mentioned that the brand name “Ruou Can Phu Tuc” (rice wine drunk out of a jar through pipes) is considered as crystallization of the Co Tu ethnic minority people’s food culture, contributing to enriching the culture of Hoa Phu Commune, and that of Hoa Vang District as a whole.

Tourists enjoyed Ruou Can Phu Tuc at the launching ceremony of Ta Lang - Gian Bi village community based tourism spot located in Hoa Bac Commune. Photo: V.T.L
Tourists enjoyed "Ruou Can Phu Tuc" at the launching ceremony of Ta Lang - Gian Bi village community-based tourism spot located in Hoa Bac Commune. Photo: V.T.L

After a nearly 40 year absence, the brand name “Ruou Can Phu Tuc” was reintroduced in Phu Tuc Village, Hoa Vang District in 2014. The product of Mr. Le Van Nghia was named among Golden Cup winners of the Vietnamese Brand Awards in 2016 and it then was recognized as a typical rural industrial product in 2021. This wine is considered as crystallization of the Co Tu ethnic group’s food culture, and it is one of the representative products of Hoa Vang District to be displayed at a showroom of the Da Nang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. This wine is being proposed for the recognition of the Da Nang government as a product under the national “One Commune-One Product” programme.

Development opportunities for local special product

However, Hoa Vang District is facing challenges in developing and preserving of traditional “Ruou Can” Making Craft. Therefore, it is high time for the district authorities to take effective and timely solutions to preserve this tradition craft of the Co Tu people as it is at risk of being lost.

69-year-old Mr Nghia has spent 100 million VND on building his own facility to make ‘ruou can’, 24 million VND of which came from the district’s budget.  He has had to spend quite a lot of money buying raw and auxiliary materials, including jars which are being sourced from Ha Noi’s Bat Trang ceramics village.

It is known that the price of “Ruou Can Phu Tuc” is higher than that of industrial wine as this wine is a natural wine, also known as organic wine, fermented without additives using traditional winemaking methods. Hence, most raw and auxiliary materials such as jars, pipes, bamboo baskets, firewood and others must be sourced from other localities nationwide. Fluctuations of raw material prices affects production costs and product pricing.

Mr Nghia has tried to find best ways to lower his input costs such as using glass and plastic bottles instead of Bat Trang ceramic jars, but these changes have various negative impacts on wine quality and its storage life.

Currently, he is using 1.5 liter jars for making “Ruou Can” on a trial basis in an attempt to lower prices for his products and facilitate their easy transportation. His trials thus far have yielded positive outcomes but the storage life of this wine in small jars is shorter than that of big ones.

A lack of competition in consumer markets is another challenge faced by “Ruou Can Phu Tuc” producers, including Mr. Nghia. He had low sales volume while his products were sold at tourist attractions in Ngu Hanh Son and Son Tra districts, restaurants, the airport, the railway and coach stations, and other tourist places across the city. Consumers prefer to go directly to Phu Tuc Village to buy this wine. It can be seen that this typical agricultural product finds it very hard to stand out in a crowded market as product prices and points of ​​sale for it are challenges faced by “Ruou Can Phu Tuc” producers.

In order to tap into fullest potential of “Ruou Can Phu Tuc” imbued with the Co Tu people’s cultural identity, the district authorities must focus on promoting the development of local ecotourism, along with preserving and promoting the cultural identity of the Co Tu ethnic group.

This wine is mainly sold to tourists but there are no stalls to introduce and display it at local tourist places such as Lai Thieu, Suoi Hoa, Hoa Phu Thanh, and Nui Than Tai. The Hoa Vang District authorities should take action to help this local traditional craft to survive and indeed thrive.

Promoting local traditions and cultural identity

The Co Tu people considers “Ruou Can Phu Tuc” as a symbol of joy and solidarity, one of community cultural activities imbued with the wild and majestic ethnic culture. Mr. Nghia is willing to help the Co Tu people learn how to make “ruou can” in a bid to create job opportunities for them, restore the traditional craft of their ancestors, and promote their cultural identity.

However, young Co Tu people are now not interested in making this wine as they know this job is too hard and it requires persistence while earnings from this job are lower than those from other ones in the locality.

Mr. Nghia hopes for more attention from local authorities to awareness raising about the traditions and cultural identity of the Co Tu People, and restoring the traditional craft of their ancestors with a focus on opening free “ruou can” making classes for young Co Tu people .

Mr. Nghia considers “ruou can” making as not only a livelihood, but also showcasing his love for his hometown's culture. He is still determined to stick with this profession no matter how hard he tries.

Mr. Nghia's family is focusing on promoting “ruou can” on social networking sites or platforms in order to reach more customers.

Restoring this traditional craft requires local authorities and residents to really join efforts. It is necessary for local relevant agencies to reserve a display space for “ruou can” at their festivals and events, contributing to promoting the implementation of the "Vietnamese people give priority to using Vietnamese goods" campaign, and opening up new opportunities for this wine to thrive. Hopefully, “Ruou Can Phu Tuc” will become a product under the national “One Commune-One Product” programme as soon as possible so that it will become more popular and recognizable with domestic and foreign tourists.

Reporting by PHAN THI HOAI PHUONG – Translating by H.L