|Farmers tend to artichoke plants in the rural district Bắc Hà, Lào Cai Province. —VNA/VNS Photo Quốc Khánh
LÀO CAI — The mountainous northern province of Lào Cai hopes to almost double its medicinal herb growing area in the next 10 years, expecting to achieve a yearly output of more than 11,000 tonnes.
Director of the Lào Cai's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Anh Tuấn said the province hoped planned to have about 3,500ha of medicinal herbs by 2030, concentrating on 22 key plants.
The medicinal herb growing areas would be mostly in the districts of Sa Pa, Bắc Hà, Bát Xát, Si Ma Cai, Mường Khương and Văn Bàn.
By the end of last year, the province had more than 1,800 ha of medicinal herbs, up 21 per cent compared to the previous year. Last year, medicinal herb productivity in the province hit nearly 8,300 tonnes. On average, local growers earned VNĐ124-240 million per hectare, while some earned more than VNĐ600 million per ha.
Đương quy (female ginseng), xuyên khung (Szechuan lovage), cát cánh (balloon flower), tam thất (Himalayan ginseng) and artichoke are among key medicinal herbs the province hopes to develop. The authority had offered technical and financial support to boost links between production and consumption of the herbs since last year, Tuấn said.
“This year, the province will continue shifting corn-growing areas and part of planted forest land to medicinal herbs,” Tuấn said, adding that the province wanted to grow more medicinal herbs under the forest canopy to better protect forest resources and create a livelihood for the community.
The province also wanted to boost co-operation among herb growers, companies and research institutes in medicinal herb production and consumption, he said.
The agriculture department asked districts to identify areas and medicinal herbs to grow as well as pay more attention to developing medicinal herb farms under the forest canopy and apply the WHO’s guidelines on good agricultural and collection practices (GACP-WHO).
The Ministry of Health has so far certified four medicinal herbs of Lào Cai to GACP-WHO standards, including artichoke grown in Sa Pa District, chè dây (a type of vine native to many Asian countries) in Sa Pa and Bát Xát, đương quy in Bắc Hà District and xuyên khung in Bát Xát.
At least 10 companies, co-operatives and individuals in the province have production-consumption linkages, helping them trade more than 3,000 tonnes of herbs yearly.
The links help form areas that specialise in growing medicinal herbs, boosting the application of advanced technology to increase productivity and product quality.
Lào Cai also plans to develop branding and cataloguing. Growers and traders will be instructed to register barcodes to ensure origin traceability, Tuấn said.
“We want to promote local medicinal herbs as typical products of the province, aiming that each commune would have a special product,” he said.
Nguyễn Tiến Hồng, vice head of Bắc Hà District’s Agriculture sub-department said that this year, 105 ha of land in the district was used to grow medicinal herbs, mostly đương quy and cát cánh.
Local authorities have provided technical and financial assistance for 38ha while the remaining 67ha of medicinal herbs were grown by companies or families, he said.
With favourable weather, soil and proper nursing, đương quy had done well in the mountainous area, Hồng said, adding that the herb helped growers earns as much as 3-4 times more than if they grew corn or rice.
In Lùng Phình – one of eight communes planned to develop medicine herbs growing zone in the district, people could earn VNĐ80-200 million from 1ha of medicinal herbs.
“Many families have escaped poverty and become prosperous thanks to medicinal herbs,” Hồng said. — VNS