Life in Vietnam

Wednesday, 11/04/2018 10:00

Growing medicinal plants brings big profits

The 10ha herbal farm of DK Natural Product Company in Thai Nguyen Province brings profits of more than VND200 million (US$8,800) per hectare to its farmers. – VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Nguyen
Viet Nam News

HA NOI — In 2009, farmer Bui Van Chung in northern Nam Dinh Province’s Hai Quang Commune made the difficult decision to chop down ornamental trees to grow dinh lang (Polyscias fruticose), a medicinal plant species.

That year, a pharmaceutical company came to Nam Dinh to carry out a survey on land and water quality for constructing a clean and safe herbal medicine plantation. The company provided guidance for local farmers on how to cultivate the plant and pledged to buy all the products if the farmers could grow dinh lang following standards.

Chung was among the farmers who were pioneers in implementing the cultivation.

“If you want to grow dinh lang effectively, what you need is to choose land with high elevation, as the tree will die in flood, and you must keep the tree warm in cold weather,” he told Nam Dinh News online newspaper.

“The most important thing is to strictly follow the WHO guidelines on Good Agriculture and Collection Practices in growing the tree, from selecting seedlings, cultivating saplings, preparing land to taking care of the tree. It also requires regular inspection of tree quality. Any tree found to have disease must be chopped down to prevent it from spreading to others,” he said.

And Chung’s efforts have made good. With a total area of 3.7ha of land, Chung has grown 12,000 dinh lang trees which has brought in an annual income of VND200-300 million (US$8,800-13,300). He plans to harvest more than 200 tonnes of products this year.

“Growing dinh lang also frees farmers from worrying about finding an output for their products. They only need to focus on growing the tree following company’s standard and the company will buy all qualified products, even for a higher price than the market price,” he said.

Hai Quang Commune now has around 40ha of dinh lang.

The commune is just one among many other areas across the country that have successfully developed business-farmer co-operation models for growing clean and safe medicinal plant species, which helps to bring about hundreds of Vietnamese dong of income for farmers.

Tran Thi Hong Phuong from the Traditional Medicine & Pharmacy Management Agency said at a recent workshop that the potential for developing medicinal herbs in Viet Nam is great. Quang Ninh, Hung Yen, Hai Duong and Nam Dinh in the north and Nghe An, Kon Tum and Lam Dong in the central region all are provinces with great advantages in developing medicinal plants.

Many provinces have gradually formed trademarked zones for growing materials for herbal medicine, such as global artichoke growth in Lao Cai Province, cinnamon in Yen BaiProvince, and dinh lang and day thia canh (gymnema sylvestre) in Nam Dinh Province.

She stressed that farmers should be encouraged to grow medicinal plants because this can bring profits three to 10 times higher than rice cultivation. However, farmers need support in all phases of medicinal herb production, from production to harvesting, processing and distribution, she said.

According to the Institute of Medicinal Materials, Viet Nam has 5,117 herbal plants and fungus, along with 408 species of animals and minerals used as materials for nearly 1,300 traditional remedies. Domestic demand for herbal medicinal materials is about 60,000-80,000 tonnes per year, mostly for producing foods, medicines and cosmetics.

To promote herbal medicine, experts at a conference last week pointed to the need to promote the value of good plants and apply advanced technologies for the development of herbal medicines from the selection of seedlings to product underwriting and distribution following the value chain. — VNS

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