The central province of Quang Nam had made the announcement in collaboration with the ministry of science and technology and the Intellectual Property Agency of Vietnam.
The Ngoc Linh ginseng (Panax vietnamensis, or Vietnamese ginseng) was found on Ngoc Linh Mount at 2.598m on the border between Kon Tum and Quang Nam provinces in the late 1960s. However, Quang Nam Province had established the Tra Linh drug materials farm on the mount, with low productivity, in 1979, while Kon Tum Province had also set up a conservation centre for ginseng in 2004.
Currently, Nam Tra My District in Quang Nam and Tu Mo Rong and Dak Glei districts in Kon Tum have been appropriated for the mass development of ginseng because of their cool natural conditions on mountains reaching 1,400m to 2,600m above sea level.
Chairman of Nam Tra My district Ho Quang Buu said the announcement of the GI for ginseng would create a smooth transition for the two provinces in developing a long-term strategy and procuring investment for larger quantities of ginseng products with better productivity as well as ensure the conservation of the herb.
“We’re a long way from building up the trademark of Vietnamese ginseng. We have called on investors to pour money into boosting production and farming in the mountainous areas of Quang Nam and Kon Tum Provinces,” Buu said.
“We expect to build a famous brand for Vietnamese ginseng in the Central and Central Highlands Provinces – a basic requirement for future socio-economic development,” he said, adding that the GI had paved the way for the sustainable development of Vietnamese ginseng.
Last year, Quang Nam Province approved a plan to build the Ngoc Linh Ginseng Centre in Nam Tra My District, which covered seven projects with a total investment of VND9 trillion (US$429 million), including the development of infrastructure and the production of drugs, essential oils, cosmetics, tonic drinks and capsules from ginseng.
As scheduled, a 200ha farm will be built to conserve 2 million ginseng plants in 15 communes of two provinces during the first stage from 2016-25, along with afforestation and tourism activities.
Nam Tra My District alone developed 27 farms, with over 800,000 natural ginseng plants and other plants used for making drugs, with an estimated production capacity of 1,000 tonnes by 2025.
Currently, Panax vietnamensis is sold for VND40 million (US$1,900) per kilo, but poor investment in processing technology has resulted in only locals producing pharmaceutical materials and energy drinks.
The Vietnamese ginseng was one of eight precious and endangered flora genes covered in Quang Nam Province’s conservation programme in 2014-20, including Ba Kích (poor ginseng or codonopsis), pepper, cinnamon, large rattan and white corn.
Last year, Nam Tra My District and Hamyang County in the Republic of Korea signed a Memorandum of Understanding on tourism, agriculture, conservation and the development of Ngoc Linh ginseng.
According to the Intellectual Property Agency of Vietnam, under the ministry of science and technology, few domestic companies have applied for patents, and 39 % of Vietnamese enterprises did not even know where and how to register for IP rights.
Several products from Vietnam have been registered under GI recognition, including Buon Ma Thuot coffee in Dak Lak Province, Phu Quoc fish sauce in Kien Giang, grape and wine products in Ninh Thuan, and Long Khanh rambutan in Dong Nai Province.