Vietnam’s medicinal plants: the ‘green gold’ mine in danger
VietNamNet Bridge - The rich medicinal plant treasure of Vietnam is in danger. From the northern mountainous provinces to the Central Highlands, the plants are being overexploited for export to China.


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With its unique natural conditions, Vietnam has thousands of medicinal plants including many rare and precious ones considered ‘green gold’. Cao Bang, Lang Son, Lai Chau, Yen Bai, Lao Cai and Son La are called the ‘herbal land’. 

Hoang Lien National Park is one of the ‘herbal land’ areas. Scientists have found 2,024 higher plant species, including 66 species listed in Vietnam’s Red Book.

Pham Xuan Phong, deputy chair of the Sa Pa district Oriental Medicine Association, said that locals had to spend a few hours to collect a bag of herbs in the forests, but now, they find plants only after several days of searching.

In many districts of Cao Bang province and other northern mountainous localities, plants are exploited every day by locals to sell to Chinese businessmen.

With its unique natural conditions, Vietnam has thousands of medicinal plants including many rare and precious ones considered ‘green gold’. Cao Bang, Lang Son, Lai Chau, Yen Bai, Lao Cai and Son La are called the ‘herbal land’.

Nong Thi Ca, a collector of medicinal plants in Thach An district of Cao Bang province, confirmed that in the past, she could collect several tons of na day (Kadsura coccinea) and cha vang (Jasminum subtriplinerve) herbs from Tay ethnic minority, a day. But now, she only buys hundreds of kilograms a day.

According to the Cao Bang provincial Oriental Medicine Association, there are tens of establishments that collect medicinal plants and sell tens of thousand of tons of medicinal plants to China across the border gates. A report said there are over 600 precious plant species in the province, but these are now in danger.

A local man told reporters that in Cao Bang and Lang Son, in border districts, Vietnamese merchants join forces with Chinese businessmen to set up medicinal plant collection stations. The merchants take orders from Chinese businessmen and then inform locals about the amount of plants they want.

According to the man, the Chinese not only order the plants known as precious medicine, but also plants with medicinal functions that local people were unaware of.

Tran Van Tuyen, chair of the Lang Son provincial Oriental Medicine Association, estimates that about 300,000 tons of local herbs are exported to China each year.

Tran Van On from the Hanoi University of Pharmacy said that over 60 medicinal plant species with high economic value are being purchased by Chinese businessmen at the low price of tens of thousands of dong per kilogram. 


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Mai Lan

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