‘Tamed’ medicinal herbs improve farmers’ lives in Việt Nam

A group of farmers in Quảng Nam’s mountainous Tiên Phước District have improved their lives considerably by cultivating wild medicinal herbs in their home gardens.

After setting up an association in 2010, 16 households in Phú Lâm village have successfully grown various kinds of medicinal herbs and improved techniques to adapt the wild plants to different conditions and terrains.

Vietnamese_Herbs_1A couple is working on their “hoắc hương” field in Quảng Nam’s mountainous Tiên Phước District

The herbs are capable of curing certain ailments and yield substances that can be extracted to make dietary supplements or alternative medicines.

Lê Văn Phúc, a member of the Phú Lâm medicinal herb farmer association, has grown several breeds of medically valuable herbs, such as “hoắc hương,” “mạch mon,” and “thiên môn,” under the foliage of the fruit trees in his home garden, since they prosper in the shade.

Vietnamese_Herbs_2“Sa nhân,” a valuable medicinal herb

“Cultivating herbs under the canopy of fruit trees is beneficial since we can grow both of them on the same plot and in the shade, and the herbs don’t need regular watering during the sunny season.”

Phúc said.

Farmers also successfully experimented with growing “hoắc hương,” which has the highest economic value of all the herbs, in alternating patterns with “keo” (Acacia) trees on the fields near the forest.

Their efforts and vision have paid off since the herbs have yielded good crops after two or three years.

Vietnamese_Herbs_3“Thiên môn,” another medicinal herb, grown in Quảng Nam’s mountainous Tiên Phước District

However, as “keo” trees turn three or four years old and become too luxuriant for the herbs beneath, some farmers have made even more audacious moves in cultivating the herbs on uncovered plots, thus exposing them to the elements.

“I’m really full of admiration for Thái Thị Hòa, her elder brother Thái Hồng Hội, and his wife, who found ways to grow the herbs near their paddy fields, exposed to the sunshine.”

Said Lê Phước, chairman of the association.

Hội said that in 2013, he and his sister each earned over VND25 million (US$1,199) from “hoắc hương” alone.

Others in the community also make some VND40-50 million a year from the herb and the sale of its seedlings.

Phúc, the association member, has recently started growing “thiên môn” and “mạch môn” on uncovered plots, which he said allows him to take proper care of them and produces good crops.

“Though these two herbs fetch lower prices in the market than ‘hoắc hương,’ they require less care and can be sold in both fresh and dried leaves.”

Phúc revealed.

“Besides, we want to grow as many of the breeds available in our hometown as possible.”

Vietnamese_Herbs_4“Mạch môn,” another medicinal herb grown in Quảng Nam’s mountainous Tiên Phước District

According to Phước, the chairman, more farmers outside the association also plant the herbs in their home gardens.

Sixty percent of the 172 households in the village have grown “hoắc hương.”

Though grown in smaller areas, the herb has provided locals, particularly elderly and poor people, with a considerable supplementary income.

The dried herb fetches some VND30,000-35,000 per kg in the local market.

Phước, as well as other members of his association, are hopeful that they will find more ways to better tap their hometown’s resources of wild herbs.

Source: Tuổi Trẻ News

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