Local economy

Vegetable straws produced amid COVID-19

Producing straws from the vegetables of Song Hong cooperative in Hanoi has been considered as an effective solution for agricultural during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The eco-product made by Song Hong cooperative in Dai Mach commune, Dong Anh district met the five-star OCOP (One Commune - One Product program) of Hanoi.

It was initiated by Le Van Tam, a famer born in Thanh Hoa province. Obsessed by the plastic waste on the sea in his hometown, including plastic straws, Tam had the idea to make eco-friendly straws.

Taking advantage of the locality with its abundant source of raw materials year-round, Le Van Tam did some research and made straws from vegetables. He takes natural materials like grains, vegetables and fruit to make the straws. Besides being used to replace plastic straws, the unique product also is a nutritious and new food with a strange taste.

Le Van Tam collaborated with many farmers of Song Hong cooperative to find materials to produce straws. Colorful vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, radishes and others are grilled and then steamed or dried to produce straws that help farmers sell their produce. The local authority has appreciated the products. It not only brings significant value in economic development, but also contributes to reducing plastic waste and environmental pollution.

Le Van Tam at his nursery for vegetables to produce Ecos straws. 

Vegetable straw production line. 

Loosening starch from vegetables.

Steaming process.

All production phases are monitored strictly to ensure the safety and hygiene of products. 

After steaming, liquid starch will be concentrated from the mill. 

Straightening straws using metal tubes. 

Ecos straws are ready for packing. 

Song Hong cooperative exports its product to Poland, Singapore, the US and South Korea.

Many enterprises, hotels and restaurants work with the cooperative
in the project for customers’ health and environment protection. Photo: Files

Recalling the development of Song Hong cooperative, Le Van Tam said that in 2018, the cooperative received a big order of straws from the UK. His product was adapted to the temperature of 18-250C so the batch of straws were broken when they arrived in the UK at a temperature of -100C. This issue caused many challenges for the cooperative. However, Tam was determined to learn a technique of making straws which can be used in all weather conditions. After many trials, the line of straws made from vegetables with the brand name of “Ecos” was launched. The Ecos straws can adapt to all temperatures, water sources and weather conditions.

Ecos straws now are supplied to many domestic supermarkets, airports and tourist companies as well as resorts in Phu Quoc, Quang Ninh and Da Nang. Besides dominating the domestic market, the straws also are favored in foreign countries. Song Hong cooperative exports its product to Poland, Singapore, the US and South Korea. Despite the complicated COVID-19 pandemic, the cooperative still sends large orders abroad with 1.3 million straws per container. This doesn’t include the monthly order of 7 million straws going to South Korea.

According to Le Van Tam, the future strategy of Song Hong cooperative is strengthening the export market and spreading their message “Using Ecos straws to protect life and have a green environment”, as well as enhancing the value of produce during the pandemic. The cooperative also will diversify its products made from vegetables, including knives, cups, bowls and other daily utensils.

The cooperative now is studying more varieties of vegetables to diversify their products. 

Ecos straws made from vegetables of Song Hong cooperative. Photo: Files

Story: Bich Van        Photos: Khanh Long & files        Translated by Nguyen Tuoi

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