return icon

Vietnam wants to exploit enormous medicinal herb treasure

Northern mountainous people are living with so-called ‘golden mountains’, but still cannot exploit the resources in the most effective way.



According to the Vietnam Academy of Forest Sciences, the northern mountainous region has total forest area of 5.73 million hectares, including 3.94 million hectares of natural forests and 1.79 million planted forests. Scientists have found more than 7,000 non-timber plant species, including plants that give fiber, or are used as food, medicinal herbs and cosmetics.

The plants used to make medicines and cosmetics alone comprise 4,000 species, of which 144 are listed among rare and precious species, including Lai Chau ginseng, sam vu diep (Panax bipinnatifidus), and hoang lien gai (Berberis julianae).

Non-timber forest products are associated with the life of nearly 15 million people in the northern midlands and mountains. People not only exploit natural forest products but also plant them to increase their income.

However, most products are exploited and sold as raw materials without preliminary processing. As a result, though herbs have high economic values, they are exported as raw materials at low prices. Very few non-timber forest products are put into deep processing to make refined products which have high value.

This explains why the exports of wood and wooden products have risen sharply in recently years, with turnover reaching $13.5 billion in 2020. But the exports of non-timber forest products brought $800 million only.

Tran Thu Ha from the Institute of Forestry Research and Development (IFRAD), belonging to Thai Nguyen Agriculture and Forestry University said that economic development under the forest canopy still is not commensurate with the potential. Farmers have been developing some models, but the capability and production scale remain small. The value chain is still weak, and deep processing is underdeveloped.

As a result, locals exploit herbs for sale at low prices while many plants have gone out of existence.

In Lao Cai province, the province’s leaders said the forest economy has begun developing and medicinal herbs bring revenue of VND900 billion, but most of the herbs are sold raw.


Northern mountainous people are living with so-called ‘golden mountains’, but still cannot exploit the resources in the most effective way.


Experts point out that the herbs in northern mountainous areas are a ‘treasure’ which still cannot be opened.

In order to exploit its resources, it’s necessary to design policies to encourage the farming of herbs, including support for varieties, land and infrastructure development.

At present, roads are still underdeveloped in many areas, and some plant varieties grown under forest canopy have low yields because of poor quality. Northern farmers can collect five tons of cinnamon per hectare, while the yield is 16 tons per hectare in China.

Nguyen Lan Hung, an expert, said when developing economy under the forest canopy, farmers can grow plants, but raise bamboo rats, sheep and fowls.

“One kilogram of canarium sells at VND120,000. One canarium plant can bring 800 kilograms each crop. One kilogram of hat doi (Michelia tonkinensis A. Chev.) is collected at VND800,000. The plants can bring high economic value,” Hung said.

Minister Le Minh Hoan of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) stressed that forests are multi-use and farmers approach forests not just for timber and hydropower, but also for the forests’ value. If farmers can do this, they can live well ‘under the forest canopy’.

Hoan said when he visited Finland, he saw a lot of food harvested from forests on sale. In Vietnam he heard from a businessman that highlands people had sold herbs to Chinese businesses at low prices.

“We need to integrate multiple values from indigenous resources and innovate to create a new face for the northern region,” Hoan said, adding that resources are limited while innovation is unlimited.

He said that forests are a treasure trove, with timber to exploit, landscapes to develop ecotourism, and land to grow medicinal herbs for processing valuable food and medicine.

Hoang, while promising that his ministry will draw up a plan on the forest economy, stressed that this will not only help protect natural resources and prevent land erosion, but also give livelihoods to tens of millions of people.

Under a Government resolution on the investment policy for the sustainable forestry development program in the next five years, Vietnam strives for a growth rate of 5-5.5 percent a year in forestry production in 2021-2025.

Tam An

Vietnam tests Covid-19 herbal medicine on 260 patients

Vietnam tests Covid-19 herbal medicine on 260 patients

A locally developed Covid-19 treatment drug called Vipdervir will be tested on 260 Covid-19 patients.

Scientists use Vietnamese herbs to make products to prevent osteoporosis

Scientists use Vietnamese herbs to make products to prevent osteoporosis

Using nanotechnology, researchers from the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology have created an anti-osteoporosis product from violet ba kich (Morinda officinalis).


16 Vietnamese designers to open Thailand Fashion Week 2022

A fashion collection by 16 young Vietnamese designers is set to open Thailand Fashion Week 2022 for the first time, with the outfits on show featuring images of Vietnamese cultural heritages.

The man who helps Vietnamese find their biological parents

Do Hung Phuc’s joy is to help those who lost their parents at birth to find their roots. In three years, the young man has created many magical and emotional reunions.

US increases coffee imports from Vietnamese market

The market share of Vietnamese coffee as part of the United States’ total imports increased from 8.95% to 9.6% during the opening four months of the year, according to statistics compiled by the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

Teenager specializes in diaphonization of animals

Two years ago, after he saw images of diaphonized specimens on the internet, Nguyen Tien Minh Duy, 15, from Buon Ma Thuot City began searching for information and learning about diaphonization.

Universities use ‘conflicts’ to help students learn more about business

Future schools need to be good at designing experiences for students to help them in their career and purpose, Lee Newman from Spain’s IE University said in an interview with VietNamNet.

Famous painter Bui Xuan Phai's works on display for first time

Sixty works by late famous painter Bui Xuan Phai, many of which were created toward the end of his life, are on display in Ho Chi Minh City.

5-year-old Hanoian conquers highest mountains in Vietnam

Dang Quang Vinh, together with his parents, has climbed the five highest mountains in Vietnam, including Lao Than, Lung Cung and Nhiu Co San, which even adults dare not climb.

Belgian comic artist, musician to attend Hue Festival 2022

Belgian comic artist Dany and musician-singer Konoba will represent artists from the Wallonie-Bruxelles region at Hue Festival 2022, according to the Wallonie-Bruxelles delegation in Vietnam.

Family has 3 kids with small stature

The family of Doan Thi Nhan in Hoang Viet hamlet, Tan Phuoc commune of Tan Hong district in Dong Thap, in the Mekong Delta, has a number of children with small stature.

Vietnamese player wins first int’l badminton title at Croatia Open

Vu Thi Anh Thu of Vietnam secured a gold medal in the Croatia Open badminton tournament on June 23 in Dubrovnik.

Face masks and community immunity

Recently, I visited a government agency. The security guards, who were not wearing face masks, did not allow me to enter the agency because I did not have a mask.

Indian naval ships start three-day visit to HCM City

Two Indian naval ships carrying with more than 500 crewmembers arrived at Nha Rong Wharf on June 24, beginning a three-day friendship visit to Ho Chi Minh City.


Efforts made to boost seafood cooperation between Vietnam, India


NA Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue to begin European tour this weekend

World’s first zero-emission boat visits HCM City

Energy Observer – the world’s first hydrogen-powered, zero-emission vessel that is self-sufficient in energy – continues its journey in Southeast Asia, with the 73rd stopover of its round-the-world Odyssey being in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.