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Ngọc Linh gets to the root of expansion

QUẢNG NAM — The Intellectual Property Agency of Việt Nam, under the Ministry of Science and Technology, has expanded recognition of the Geographical Indication (GI) of Ngọc Linh for ginseng root products grown in 15 communes of Quảng Nam and Kon Tum Provinces.

The agency said on August 2 that the ginseng GI, which was given to three districts of Tu Mơ Rông, Đăk Glei in Kon Tum and Nam Trà My in Quảng Nam in 2016, now will be expanded. The expansion will support the mass development of ginseng in the cool natural conditions on mountains reaching 1,400m to 2,600m above sea level in the mountainous communes of the two provinces.

The Ngọc Linh ginseng (Panax vietnamensis, or Vietnamese ginseng) was found on Ngọc Linh Mountain on the border between the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum and central Quảng Nam Province in the late 1960s.

By 1979, Quảng Nam Province had established the Trà Linh drug materials farm on the mountain, but it suffered from low productivity. Kon Tum Province had also built up a conservation centre for the Ngọc Linh ginseng in 2004.

Chairman of Nam Trà My District Hồ Quang Bửu said the expansion of the GI for the Ngọc Linh ginseng would help the two provinces develop a strategy and win new investments to promote the Vietnamese ginseng national brand.

A master plan for development of Ngọc Linh ginseng has been created in the two provinces, with an estimated cost of US$429 million, including the development of infrastructure and the production of drugs, essential oils, cosmetics, tonic drinks and capsules from ginseng.

Nam Trà My District alone has developed 27 farms of Ngọc Linh ginseng on a total area of 932ha, growing 800,000 natural ginseng plants and herbs. These farms plan to produce 1,000 tonnes of the ginseng by 2025. 

Currently, raw ginseng is sold for VNĐ40 million (US$1,900) per kilo, but the two provinces can only produce pharmaceutical materials and energy drinks due to poor investment in processing technology.

The Vietnamese ginseng was one of eight precious and endangered flora genes covered in Quảng Nam Province’s conservation programme for 2014-20, including Ba Kích (poor ginseng or codonopsis), pepper, cinnamon, large rattan and white corn.

Nam Trà My District, 100km south of Tam Kỳ City in Quảng Nam Province, has hosted the annual Ngọc Linh Ginseng Festival since 2017, while its monthly ginseng fair is organised in the first three days of a month.   

About 26 businesses in Việt Nam have registered to invest $221 million in farming and production of the Ngọc Linh ginseng in Nam Trà My District.