Measuring the development of ginseng plants in Hon Ba Nature Reserve, Khanh Hoa Province. — Photo from Khanh Hoa newspaper

Ngoc Linh ginseng has been successfully cultivated in Hon Ba Nature Reserve in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa as part of a pilot project.

Conducted from 2019 to June 2022, the project was assigned VND1.4 billion (US$59,000) from the State budget. More than 800 Ngoc Linh ginseng plants were seeded over about 1,000sq.m at the nature reserve. The survival rate was nearly 90 per cent.

Average fresh roots weigh around 2.8–3.6 grams, with a saponin content just 1.5–2 per cent lower than those planted in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum and central province of Quang Nam, where the species is native.

This success will be an opportunity to expand Ngoc Linh Ginseng farming in Khanh Hoa and other areas with similar natural conditions to create jobs and improve livelihoods for residents, especially given the dwindling source of natural ginseng found in the wild, according to the provincial science and technology council that assessed the results of the project.

Ngoc Linh ginseng was first discovered in 1973 in a forest on Ngoc Linh Mountain, located between the provinces of Kon Tum and Quang Nam, by a team of four pharmacists. They were sent by the Central Region Health Agency to search for herbal medicine.

Ngoc Linh ginseng's stems and roots contain a high rate of saponin compound, much higher than other ginseng species. The ginseng also has prominent features that Korean and Chinese ginseng lack, including antibacterial, anti-depressant, anxiety-reduction and anti-oxidant properties, and can boost the effects of antibiotics and diabetes medications.

It is estimated that for an investment of about VND3 billion (nearly $129,000) to grow one hectare of ginseng, revenues from the output after five years will reach ten times the original capital, at about VND30 billion ($1.27 million).

To preserve and promote the value of Ngoc Linh ginseng, many localities in the country have researched and conducted trial plantings, such as Sa Pa (Lao Cai Province), Tam Dao (Vinh Phuc Province) in the northern region, and Lac Duong (Lam Dong Province) in the Central Highlands.

However, cultivating Ngoc Linh ginseng isn't easy because the plant can only grow and produce quality ginseng in climatic and soil conditions at an altitude of 1,200-2,000m, as on Ngoc Linh Mountain.

Hon Ba Nature Reserve is located about 40km southwest of Nha Trang City, with a total area of ​​over 19,285 hectares, including 9,500ha which is strictly protected. Many regions in Hon Ba have an altitude of 1,000 to 1,500m above sea level, which scientists have determined to be similar to the ecological, soil and weather conditions of Ngoc Linh Mountain.

Hon Ba is also home to a very rich and high-value natural source of medicinal herbs.

The plant was called a national treasure by President Nguyen Xuan Phuc at a Quang Nam seminar on the plant's development last month. 

Source: Vietnam News