Ginseng farm set up in central Vietnam

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A vast area of Ngoc Linh ginseng (Panax vietnamesis) has been successfully developed after cultivation began 13 years ago in Kon Tum Province.

Tran Hoan, Chairman of Kon Tum Ngoc Linh Ginseng Joint Stock Company, said company scientists have grown the medicinal root on an area of 140 hectares (346 acres) on Ngoc Linh Mountain in the Central Highland province's Tu Mo Rong District.

The plants, of between one and ten years old, were grown in natural conditions in the forest, at a height of more than 2,000 meters above sea level.

The company said that each hectare could produce at least one ton of ginseng valued at around VND50 billion (US$2.4 million).

Hoan said that over the past years, the company had bought ginseng found by locals and grew them in the forest. "At times, we had to pay VND50 million per kilogram of ginseng to grow, of which only between 30-40 percent could grow," he told Sai Gon Tiep Thi Newspaper.

He said the ginseng area will supply around one million saplings that could grow in a 20-hectare (49-acre) area.

Early this month, the Central Highlands Biology Center (CHBC) in Lam Dong Province announced successful cloning of the Ngoc Linh ginseng.

Tran Cong Luan, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Research Center of Ginseng and Medicinal Materials, analyzed three CHBC ginseng samples and found that they have the same saponin element as natural ginseng grown in Ngoc Linh Mountain.

He said that they would analyze the plants again when they are five years old and ready for harvest.

Ngoc Linh ginseng has traditionally been used by ethnic people in the eponymous mountain area as a miraculous, life-saving plant that can treat many serious diseases.

It was officially researched and recognized by the government in 1973. Scientist said it could enhance body strength and reduce physical weakness and stress. Tests have shown that it contains even more saponin that most other ginseng species.

Since then, the root is facing extinction threats due to over-exploitation and has been classified as an endangered species.

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