by Phan Tuấn Anh
Tỏa Tình Commune in Tuần Giáo District is home to the largest plantation of sa nhân (a member of the ginger family) in the northern province of Điện Biên.
A local woman clears wild grass to plant sa nhân. VNA/VNS Photos Phan Tuấn Anh
The plant has been planted in the area for over 20 years now. With the characters of being easy to plant, care and offering high price, the plant has become a source that helps erase poverty and develops sustainable economy for locals.
Sa nhân fruits fall to the root.
In 2019, there was 120ha of sa nhân in the commune, which were mostly cultivated by villagers from Lồng and Hua Sa A. Last year locals harvested 1,200kg per ha.
A woman harvests sa nhân.
The plants grow 2-3 meters high and look like galangal, but its roots do not develop into tubers. Sa nhân’s roots spread all over under a thin layer of soil, sometimes emerge on the surface. The flowers are white mingled with purple and grow in clusters. Its fruit is round and covered in thorns, with three pods of fragrant dark brown seeds inside.
Sa nhân seeds have a strong fragrance.
According to traditional medicine, sa nhân, also known as “súc sa mật”, is a valuable plant with high medical value which helps moderate the digestive system. Besides, the oil from the plant is also used to produce spices, perfume and shampoo.
Dried sa nhân fruits have good medical value for the human digestive system.
They are planted in the jungle under old trees, and it takes three years before the fruit can be harvested. At present, the average capacity is between 100-200kg of dried fruits per ha per year. Each kilogramme of dried fruit is sold for VNĐ100.000 – 200.000 (US$4.3 - 8.6), so each ha of sa nhân brings in some VNĐ40 million ($1,700). VNS