Growing ginseng Abelmoschus Sagittifolius (Kurz) Merr

THANH HOA – Abelmoschus Sagittifolius (Kurz) Merr was once known as “Dai Viet’s first famous ginseng” but it was lost, the people of Vinh Hung commune just restored it, turning it into a specialty of Tay Do.

In the late afternoon of September, Ms. Dang Thi Nga, 39 years old, in Vinh Hung commune, Vinh Loc district, together with 3-4 women in the village scrub the ginseng basket to clean the soil before processing it into herbal tea. Each person has a stage, people wash ginseng, slice it, and others bring it to the oven to dry, prepare or pack… They laugh and talk about the good season of ginseng, the price is higher than in the years before the Covid-19 epidemic was over. via.

Due to the rain, ginseng has not reached its weight, so Nga only dug a small amount just enough to pay for the new order. It takes more than a month for Ginseng Bao (Abelmoschus Sagittifolius (Kurz) Merr) to enter the main harvest season.

Nga carefully checks each ginseng root before processing.  Photo: Le Hoang
Nga checks each ginseng root before processing. Photo: Le Hoang

Ginseng used to grow wild on Bao mountain, also known as Bao ginseng, widely known in the Ho Dynasty, late 14th century, early 15th century. Legend has it, in 1397, to quickly move the capital from Thang Long to Thang Long. In An Ton land, Ho Quy Ly sent soldiers day and night to dig fortresses and build ramparts. Exploiting and transporting stone slabs weighing tens of tons from the mountainside to assemble into a towering wall up to 3-4 m high without supporting machinery requires skilled and laborious techniques.

According to the old history, there were many soldiers, civil servants, and laborers who sacrificed their lives and blood in this mysterious stonework. Incidentally, during a visit to urge the construction of the citadel, Ho Quy Ly witnessed a group of workers working day and night tirelessly. Researching, he learned that this group of people was from Bien Thuong village, Vinh Hung commune, Vinh Ninh district, in Thanh Do town (now Vinh Hung commune, Vinh Loc district). Their strength is due to the use of drinks made from ginseng roots on Bao Mountain.

Ho Quy Ly immediately sent a group of medical doctors to hunt for precious ginseng species, and issued a ban on its use by people, in order to collect medicinal herbs for the military to participate in building ramparts.

Later, ginseng became a valuable medicinal herb used to treat diseases and a nutritious food used in the Ho Dynasty’s palace, considered a national product of the Le and Trinh lords later. Book Thanh Hoa Vinh Loc district chi , written by Luu Cong Dao: “Southern country has a lot of ginseng, only Bien Thuong ginseng is more effective than other places. Using ginseng in Bao mountain has many strange effects”.

However, ginseng for many centuries after that was less popular or used only limited in traditional medicine pharmacies in the region. Ginseng still grows wild on the slopes of Bao mountain in Bong Thuong village, Vinh Hung commune.

Mature leopard ginseng root usually has three branches like many other precious ginseng lines.  Photo: Le Hoang
Mature leopard ginseng root usually has three branches like many other precious ginseng lines. Photo: Le Hoang

For the last 5 years, realizing that Bao ginseng has high economic value, some local families have found seeds and propagated it. Nga’s family has so far planted four ginseng crops on an area of ​​0.5 ha. In the first year, the family collected 600 kg of tubers, sold 500 million VND, minus expenses, she profited more than 300 million VND. “Growing ginseng has a higher and more stable income than other crops,” Ms. Nga shared.

In the early years, because she did not know how to process, Nga mainly sold fresh tubers, so the efficiency was not high. Recently, the Russian family cooperated with a number of other households to establish Tay Do cooperative, buying machinery to specialize in producing Bao ginseng herbal tea. Products of Tay Do Cooperative are favored by the market and have just been recognized as a three-star OCOP products (one product per commune program).

Mr. Dinh Xuan Ta, 31 years old, this year planted 2.5 hectares of ginseng, expected to harvest 4.5-5 tons of tubers at the end of the season. “I don’t process it, but sell it at the foot of the field, every time I bring the tubers to the shore, it’s gone …”, Mr. Ta said and said the market price is currently ranging from 150,000-200,000 VND per kilogram of fresh tubers. He is expected to earn nearly one billion dongs from growing ginseng.

According to Mr. Ta, ginseng is sowed about February-April every year and until September-December, it is harvested. Growing ginseng is not too difficult, but it is necessary to pay attention to some stages, especially not to pull weeds, but only cover with nylon and kill weeds before making the soil to avoid affecting the ginseng roots during the growing season. Ginseng also often suffers from fungi that cause root rot, but currently, there is no special plant protection drug, so farmers mainly apply lime powder and make timely drainage so that the plants do not become waterlogged.

Head of Agriculture and Rural Development Department of Vinh Loc district - Trinh Viet Cuong inspects the Panax ginseng field to prepare for the plan to expand the area under the ginseng development project in the coming time.  Photo: Le Hoang
Mr. Trinh Viet Cuong, Head of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vinh Loc district, inspects the Panax ginseng field to prepare for the plan to expand the area under the ginseng development project in the coming time. Photo: Le Hoang

Mr. Trinh Viet Cuong, Head of Agriculture and Rural Development Department of Vinh Loc district, said that Bao ginseng is a herbaceous plant that usually grows in early spring. This species is light-loving and suitable for humus-rich, porous, well-drained soil, so it should be planted in low-hilly areas. Ginseng root has a bitter taste, and cool properties, can relieve heat, is used as drinking water, is a rare medicinal herb used to treat diseases and is a nutritious functional food. Panax ginseng helps to treat cough, fever, and weak lungs support the treatment of insomnia, poor appetite, body weakness…

Panax ginseng has two types, including red flowers and yellow flowers. Yellow flowers are said to have better medicinal properties, so they are often more valuable. Fresh tuber ginseng (yellow flower) sold on the free market currently ranges from VND 800,000 to VND 1.2 million per kg. According to the leader of Vinh Loc district, this year’s income from ginseng is estimated at 300-600 million VND per hectare depending on the high and low yield.

Currently, products made from ginseng Bao Vinh Loc include many types such as ginseng extract, ginseng nutritious drink, ginseng wine, ginseng syrup, and ginseng mask … which are popular in the market.

Vinh Loc district has just approved a project to preserve and expand the scale of development of Bao ginseng in the area in the period of 2022-2025, with a vision of 2030. Accordingly, from the area of ​​ginseng cultivation in the whole district, it will reach 15 hectares per year. 2021, this year raised to 25 hectares. By 2025, Vinh Loc aims to expand the ginseng growing area to 120 hectares and by 2030 to 250 hectares, making Bao mountain ginseng a key agricultural product.