|Measuring the development of ginseng plants in Hòn Ba Nature Reserve, Khánh Hòa Province. — Photo from Khánh Hòa newspaper
KHÁNH HÒA — Ngọc Linh ginseng has been successfully cultivated in Hòn Ba Nature Reserve in the south-central province of Khánh Hòa as part of a pilot project.
Conducted from 2019 to June 2022, the project was assigned VNĐ1.4 billion (US$59,000) from the State budget. More than 800 Ngọc 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 Quảng Nam, where the species is native.
This success will be an opportunity to expand Ngọc Linh Ginseng farming in Khánh Hòa 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.
Ngọc Linh ginseng was first discovered in 1973 in a forest on Ngọc Linh mountain, located between the provinces of Kon Tum and Quảng Nam, by a team of four pharmacists. They were sent by the Central Region Health Agency to search for herbal medicine.
Ngọc 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 VNĐ3 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 VNĐ30 billion ($1.27 million).
To preserve and promote the value of Ngọc Linh ginseng, many localities in the country have researched and conducted trial plantings, such as Sa Pa (Lào Cai Province), Tam Đảo (Vĩnh Phúc Province) in the northern region, and Lạc Dương (Lâm Đồng Province) in the Central Highlands.
However, cultivating Ngọc 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 Ngọc Linh Mountain.
Hòn 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 Hòn 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 Ngọc Linh Mountain.
Hòn 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 Nguyễn Xuân Phúc at a Quảng Nam seminar on the plant's development last month. — VNS