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Dose of determination helps mushroom medicine business

Update: July, 19/2015 - 12:00

There is a businesswoman in Ha Noi with a lot of determination.

Over the years she has tried to make a business from selling medicine made from mushrooms.

She has had many disasters along the way but she has never given up.

Now, Nguyen Thi Hong sells her medicine to buyers in Viet Nam as well as in other countries.

Nguyen Thi Hong, 35, cultivates a valuable medicinal herb for sale at competitive prices in the domestic and export markets.
Nguyen Thi Hong, 35, cultivates a valuable medicinal herb for sale at competitive prices in the domestic and export markets. - Photo tienphong.vn

HA NOI  (VNS) — Nguyen Thi Hong, 35, cultivates a valuable medicinal herb for sale at competitive prices in the domestic and export markets.

She has two production units in Thanh Oai District of Ha Noi and Da Lat City in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, where the cultivation of cordyceps militaris brings an annual revenue of VND12 billion (US$555,000).

Cordyceps is of the fungi genus that includes about 400 species. All Cordyceps species are parasites of mainly insects and other arthropods , while a few are parasites of other fungi. From late fall to early winter, the parasites live in pathogens. In summer, when temperatures rise, the mushroom grows into a plant.

Each month, Hong's workshop produces one tonne of fresh cordyceps, 200kg of dried cordyceps and 1.5 tonnes of powder.

Her products are exported to Japan, Singapore and Germany.

The cordyceps produced at her workshop were cheaper than the ones imported from Japan and the United States at VND180 million ($8,200) per kilogram, while the original product from China was ten times more expensive, Pham Tuan Anh, one of Hong's colleagues, said.

Last year, Hong's workshop started selling cordyceps seed to people who wanted to plant them.

In 2003, after graduating from the College of Ha Noi Natural Science's biotechnology department, Hong worked for a person who studied several types of fungi.

She read many documents about lingzhi mushroom.

"One day, I saw a report in an English newspaper about cordyceps militaris. I thought it was very interesting," Hong was quoted as saying by Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.

She decided to study the fungus, with which no one had achieved success at that time.

Hong began working on the methods of cultivating cordyceps militaris after researching documents for six years.

She asked friends to buy samples from Japan and South Korea, but could not succeed in planting them.

In 2009, she visited China to buy cordyceps bottles, worth VND5 million ($231), to plant them.

She studied the fungi and created a compound that has a structure identical to the silkworm species with which cordyceps often has a parasitic relationship.

She sold a piece of her land on a street and bought a larger plot in a village to build a workshop.

"Everyone thought I was not in my right mind because many people want to have a house near the street, and I do not," Hong said.

Unfortunately, she failed to cultivate the crop on a large scale.

In early 2012, a strange insect destroyed all 5,000 bottles of cordyceps, worth VND300 million ($13,900). By the end of that year, she planted more than 10,000 bottles again, but still failed, losing VND600 million ($27,700).

"More than 10,000 bottles of cordyceps broke, leading to an awful smell in the whole room. No one wanted to enter it," Hong said.

Not ready to give up, she studied the causes of her failure.

Tuan Anh, her colleague, went to China, and South Korea to consult experts about the reasons for fungi death. She had to spend a lot of money on each trip.

She continued to invest more in research by taking loans from banks, and doing a research course.

In 2013, Hong tried to cultivate the fungus in 20 bottles only and this time, there was no failure. But she failed again when she cultivated on a much larger scale.

She discovered that the fungus seed she had bought for $231 from China was in poor condition. So she spent VND50 million ($2,300) on another sample.

After creating an artificial environment comprising a clean air system, and maintaining moisture and temperature suitable to cultivation, she succeeded.

"I felt the same joy as in welcoming the birth of the first child," Hong said.

Despite her success, no one believed her product was true cordyceps.

Hong offered her product for free to some people for two years to gain wider acceptance.

Now her products are sold in the market and have received positive feedback.

Hong's project has been expanded to Ha Noi, Da Lat, Vinh Phuc and the northern Son La mountain province.

Da Lat is a good place to produce fungi on a large scale.

Cordyceps is used to treat several diseases, apart from being used to strengthen the immune system, improve athletic performance, reduce the effects of aging and promote longer life, besides improving liver function in people with hepatitis B.

Its value as a medicinal mushroom is much more than gold due to its unique healing qualities. — VNS

GLOSSARY

Nguyen Thi Hong, 35, cultivates a valuable medicinal herb for sale at competitive prices in the domestic and export markets.

Competitive prices are prices that are low because many people who are trying to sell the same thing are also trying to offer buyers the lowest prices possible.

The domestic market is where things are bought and sold within a country. In this case, within Viet Nam.

The export market is where things are sold to buyers in other countries. In this case, it is Vietnamese sellers who are selling things to buyers elsewhere.

She has two production units in Thanh Oai District of Ha Noi and Da Lat City in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, where the cultivation of cordyceps militaris brings an annual revenue of VND12 billion (US$555,000).

Every living thing has a scientific name, which is in Latin: a language that was once used by the people of Europe's Roman civilisation and carried on being used for certain things for centuries afterwards. Cordyceps militaris is the scientific name for one the types of fungus that Nguyen Thi Hong produces.

Cordyceps is of the fungi genus that includes about 400 species. All Cordyceps species are parasites of mainly insects and other arthropods , while a few are parasites of other fungi.

There are many different groups into which living things, such as fungi (the plural of fungus) belong. The first and largest group a living thing belongs to is a kingdom. All types of fungi belong to the fungi kingdom. The next group is called a class. Some fungi belong to the Sordariomycetes class. Then the next group is order. Certain members of the Sordariomycetes class belong to the Hypocreales order. Some of the Hypocreales order belong to the Cordycipitaceae family. Then the next group is a genus. Some of the Cordycipitaceae family belong to the cordyceps genus. Then, one type of fungus within the cordyceps genus belongs to the militaris species. And that is the cordyceps militaris.

Arthropods are creatures with their skeletons on the outside of their bodies, such as spiders and crabs.

From late fall to early winter, the parasites live in pathogens.

Fall is a season that is also called autumn.

Pathogens are very small things, such as bacteria and viruses, that can cause diseases.

The cordyceps produced at her workshop were cheaper than the ones imported from Japan and the United States at VND180 million ($8,200) per kilogram, while the original product from China was ten times more expensive, Pham Tuan Anh, one of Hong's colleagues, said.

When things are bought from other countries, they are imported.

In 2003, after graduating from the College of Ha Noi Natural Science's biotechnology department, Hong worked for a person who studied several types of fungi.

When you graduate from a university, or a college, you complete a course and pass its exams.

"One day, I saw a report in an English newspaper about cordyceps militaris. I thought it was very interesting," Hong was quoted as saying by Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper.

When someone is quoted as saying something, they are reported as having said it.

Hong began working on the methods of cultivating cordyceps militaris after researching documents for six years.

To research documents means to look for knowledge and information in piles of papers on which people have written things.

She asked friends to buy samples from Japan and South Korea, but could not succeed in planting them.

A sample is a small amount of something that gives you an idea what a larger quantity of that thing is like.

She studied the fungi and created a compound that has a structure identical to the silkworm species with which cordyceps often has a parasitic relationship.

A compound means a substance that is made up as a mixture.

In science, many things are made up of mixtures. These mixtures are arranged in an organised way that you don't see by looking at them but rather only when examining them in a scientific way. These arrangements make up structures of the substances.

If one thing is identical to another thing, it is exactly the same.

If two things live with one another, causing one to survive well and harm to the other, they are in a parasitic relationship.

Tuan Anh, her colleague, went to China, and South Korea to consult experts about the reasons for fungi death. She had to spend a lot of money on each trip, Hong said.

To consult people means to talk to them in order to offer or receive advice.

She continued to invest more in research by taking loans from banks, and doing a research course.

When you pay money into something in the hope of it making you more money, or of it giving you something else you may want, you invest.

When the bank lends you money, you take out a loan.

After creating an artificial environment comprising a clean air system, and maintaining moisture and temperature suitable to cultivation, she succeeded.

An artificial environment is one made by humans rather than by nature.

To maintain something means to keep it in a certain condition.

If a temperature is suitable for cultivation, it is at the right level to plant something, in this case mushrooms.

Cordyceps is used to treat several diseases, apart from being used to strengthen the immune system, improve athletic performance, reduce the effects of aging and promote longer life, besides improving liver function in people with hepatitis B.

Your immune system is made up of the things in your body that stop you from catching diseases.

Hepatitis B is a nasty disease.

Its value as a medicinal mushroom is much more than gold due to its unique healing qualities.

A plant that has healing qualities has things in it that can help sick people recover from illnesses.

WORKSHEET

State whether the following sentences are true, or false:

1. Militaris cordyceps is the scientific name for a type of fungus.

2. Hepatitis B is the name of a disease.

3. The season called spring is also known as fall.

4. Six years ago, Nguyen Thi Hong visited China.

5. When cordyceps broke, they caused a beautiful smell.

ANSWERS:

© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2015





























 

 

1. False; 2. True; 3. False; 4. True; 5. False.

 

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